Politics & Government

A week after being sworn in Rep. Harder uses shutdown to start fundraising

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, second from left, administers the House oath of office to Rep. Josh Harder during a ceremonial swearing-in on Capitol Hill in Washington on Thursday during the opening session of the 116th Congress.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, second from left, administers the House oath of office to Rep. Josh Harder during a ceremonial swearing-in on Capitol Hill in Washington on Thursday during the opening session of the 116th Congress. The Associated Press

Rep. Josh Harder started fundraising for his 2020 run exactly one week after he was sworn in, warning of “extremists” eyeing his seat.

In an email with the subject line “The shutdown is ridiculous,” Harder called on voters to “ensure that this kind of irresponsible politicking ends for good in 2020.”

The email also said “extremists from every side are eying this seat for 2020.” At least one person has already indicated he plans to run for the House seat in California’s 10th congressional district, typically a highly competitive district.

Harder, who became a congressman Jan. 3, did not identify who he regarded as an extremist.

Ted Howze, a Republican who finished third in the June primary behind former Republican Rep. Jeff Denham and Harder and currently works as a veternarian, has publicly indicated he plans to run for the seat in 2020. Howze’s views on border security are more conservative than Denham’s, aligning more with President Donald Trump.

Howze said he wasn’t surprised by the fundraising email and doesn’t see wanting secure borders as extreme.

“With the presidential race and Senate races in 2020, Democrats can’t funnel the same kind of money into the 10th district,” Howze said. “He’ll have to stand on his own.”

Denham, who served in Congress for eight years, lost to Harder by 4.6 percentage points in November.

Camille Gallo, spokeswoman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, said in a statement to McClatchy that Harder and Democratic party leadership were the extremists. The NRCC sent out targeted text messages the day Harder was sworn in, informing voters that Harder had voted for Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California.

“Harder and his extremist party bosses are holding the government hostage, purely out of blind hatred for President Trump, and it’s well past time for them to come to the table and reopen the federal government,” Gallo said. Parts of the government have been shut down since Dec. 22 because of a partisan feud over funding for building a U.S-Mexico border wall.

Harder’s campaign pointed to hiss votes since he took office that would reopen the government and help farmers during the shutdown .It said he was focused on “putting the Central Valley ahead of partisan politics,” rather than focusing on criticisms by the NRCC.

President Donald Trump told reporters that he would prefer to work with Congress on a deal to end the partial government shutdown and is open to compromise but will use his emergency powers to circumvent Congress if they can't come to agreement.

Harder doesn’t have debt from his 2018 run, which he ended with about $66,000 on hand, according to Federal Election Commission records.

Kate Irby is based in Washington, D.C. and reports on issues important to McClatchy’s California newspapers, including the Sacramento Bee, Fresno Bee and Modesto Bee. She previously reported on breaking news in D.C., politics in Florida for the Bradenton Herald and politics in Ohio for the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

  Comments