Democratic candidate in the 10th Congressional District race Michael Eggman has raised barely a third as much money as incumbent Rep. Jeff Denham, but he has a wild card to play: Donald Trump.
Eggman is trying to portray Denham as an ally of Trump, the billionaire Republican presidential candidate whose habit of making controversial statements has not abated.
“My opponent, Jeff Denham, went to Cleveland to cheer on Donald Trump,” Eggman said, referring to the site of the Republican National Convention last month. “It just shows where his priorities are.”
Denham has not commented in public on whether he will endorse Trump in advance of the Nov. 8 election. Dave Gilliard, a spokesman for the congressman’s campaign, said the issue does not matter much given California’s strong support for Democrat Hillary Clinton for president.
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“I think this year a lot of people are just concentrating on their own (House) race,” Gilliard said.
Denham and Eggman topped the June 7 primary in the 10th Congressional District, which takes in all of Stanislaus County and southern San Joaquin County.
The GOP had a tiny lead among registered voters as of the primary – 38.5 percent to 38.0 percent for Democrats. Another 18.6 percent had no party preference but could tip the election either way. The 10th could be a crucial contest in the uphill effort by Democrats to regain a House majority.
My opponent, Jeff Denham, went to Cleveland to cheer on Donald Trump.
Michael Eggman, House candidate
Denham raised $2.16 million for his campaign as of June 30, up from $1.7 million through March, according to the Federal Election Commission. Eggman stood at $760,030 at the end of June, compared with $540,823 three months earlier.
Eggman said he is getting on-the-ground support from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which sees the 10th as a promising chance to flip a Republican seat.
The challenger is a commercial beekeeper and almond grower in the Turlock area, and the brother of state Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman, D-Stockton. He lost to Denham 56 to 44 percent in the 2014 general election.
Eggman said he would work to boost water supplies and reform the immigration system while helping the many district residents who live in poverty.
He works very hard with the independent voters and Democratic voters who are concerned about agriculture and water and jobs.
Dave Gilliard, spokesman for Denham campaign
His campaign released polling data showing Denham with a 47-to-41-percent lead, but the challenger closes the gap to two points after voters hear more about him. The poll also found that Trump is “deeply unpopular” in the district, according to a summary.
Gilliard said the Denham campaign does not release polling data but is confident that the congressman can win a fourth two-year term. The spokesman noted that Denham won a pair of four-year terms in a state Senate with a Democratic majority in his district.
“He works very hard with the independent voters and Democratic voters who are concerned about agriculture and water and jobs,” Gilliard said.
Denham is an almond grower and co-owner of an agricultural container business in Salinas, which was part of his state Senate district.
John Holland: 209-578-2385