Stanislaus County, California - The nation is watching a number of California congressional races as the battle for control of Congress comes to a head. With so many seats up for grabs, control over the US House could come down to congressional races in California -- one of the most contentious being the race for the state's 10th Congressional District
The two candidates to emerge from the nonpartisan, top-two primary were Republican incumbent US Rep. Jeff Denham and Democrat Josh Harder, an educator and businessman. This is a race that will be decided by voters outside the major parties.
California's 10th Congressional District is located in Stanislaus County in the San Joaquin Valley. It is considered one of California's most competitive districts, and that largely has to do with the makeup of he registered voting population. The district is 37.61% Democratic, 34.4% Republican, 22.58% No Party Preference, and the rest are registered with a third party.
Denham has represented the district since 2013. However, the district has swung toward Democratic candidates for most statewide and presidential elections in recent history. In 2016, Denham beat his opponent by 3.4 percentage points. However, Clinton beat Trump by 3 points (but didn't get a majority).
It's no surprise that in 2018, when the Democrats are trying to expand their political dominance and flip the US House, that the race in CA-10 is one of the most expensive races in California. By the end of the second quarter, Denham raised $3.4 million while his opponent raised over $2.5 million. And it is also no surprise that this race has turned personal.
Denham accuses Harder of being "core of the liberal elite," and someone who represents the interests of the Bay Area
"We call him 'Bay Area Harder' because he aligns himself with the Bay Area and their issues," Denham said in a debate. "I'm not for the Bay Area and their water grab to push more of our water out to the ocean."
Water is a major issue in Stanislaus County, a heavily agricultural district that has been hit hard by drought and is need of improved water infrastructure. Some local farmers in the area are resentful toward the Bay Area for -- as they see it -- diverting water that should go to the Central Valley. Harder has countered this narrative by saying that Denham has failed to secure a single dollar for water infrastructure in the district.
On The Issues
Harder on trade disputes:
"The trade war is really hurting us. The first four products taxed by China were almonds, walnuts, fruit and wine — and that's what the Central Valley produces. The idea that we're losing billions and billions of dollars and that thousands of jobs are in jeopardy here in the valley, that's not a Republican or Democratic issue. That's about whether or not we have somebody in Washington who is going to fight for us."
Denham on trade disputes:
“As a longtime almond farmer here in the Valley, I have been a strong and consistent supporter of free and fair trade. Bad trade practices by nations like China need to be addressed. We need targeted trade policies that allow Valley farmers to create jobs while expanding markets to grow America’s agricultural economy. We need to be negotiating free trade agreements and protecting our farmers from countries that impose baseless phytosanitary restrictions that are used to devalue our perishable commodities.”
Stay tuned for further coverage of the impact trade will have on this race.
Harder on Immigration:
"I see DREAMers every day as a teacher at Modesto Junior College. These are the bright stars of our community who just want to work hard to create a better life for themselves and their families. Jeff Denham has recklessly endangered these individuals by refusing to vote for a clean DREAM ACT to come to the floor. I will fight every day to protect my students and young immigrants nationwide...
America is a nation of immigrants and we rely on immigrant labor to keep our economic engine humming. Nowhere is that more obvious than in the Central Valley, where immigrants are the bedrock of our community. We need to welcome these hardworking individuals out of the shadows and provide them a simple pathway to citizenship."
Denham on Immigration:
"I support providing an earned path to citizenship for those who want it. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office and the bicameral Joint Committee on Taxation have previously estimated that comprehensive immigration reform could reduce deficits by close to $1 trillion over two decades. Such estimations are rooted in the notion that a legal work force will produce greater tax revenue through new income and payroll taxes."
Many undocumented immigrants were brought here as children by their parents, through no fault of their own, have been educated in our schools and know of no other country to call their own. Proposals like my ENLIST Act would allow Dreamers to enlist in the military and gain legal status. I'm also a co-sponsor of the RAC Act, the BRIDGE Act and the DREAM Act."
Harder on Health Care:
"In this campaign, I will work to make sure every resident of California’s 10th district knows that their congressman voted to take away health coverage from 23 million Americans and eliminate protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Nonpartisan estimates calculate that 100,000 individuals in the CA-10 would have lost healthcare coverage as a result of Jeff Denham’s vote."
Denham on Health Care:
"In the Central Valley, we have seen coverage expand, yet unfortunately, we don’t have enough doctors to meet our growing healthcare needs. We have had a doctor shortage for years. Our current doctors are unable to care for the growing Medi-Cal community, leading to a lack of access. Over the past few months, I’ve met with many working in our hospitals, health centers and doctors offices to see what’s working and what’s not. I’m committed to engaging in meaningful dialogue with you as I continue to seek solutions."
California has become an important battleground in the fight for control of the US House. The outcome of Congressional District 10 could help give Democrats the edge or be a crucial stand for the Republicans. And it is voters outside the major parties that will decide which way the district swings.
Stay tuned for more coverage on this congressional race, including how Trump's trade policies could impact the vote in this agricultural region.