Support from two U.S. presidents figures in Denham, Harder race

Jeff Denham, left, and Josh Harder, are running for the 2018 10th Congressional District seat.
Jeff Denham, left, and Josh Harder, are running for the 2018 10th Congressional District seat.

Former president Barack Obama endorsed Josh Harder in his bid to unseat Rep. Jeff Denham on Wednesday, shortly after news broke that President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign will donate money to Denham’s campaign.

Harder, who turned 32 Wednesday, is among 81 Democratic candidates getting a nod from Obama. Others include Gavin Newsom, frontrunner on the November ballot for California governor. Newsom endorsed Harder a week ago.

In a statement, Obama said Harder and the others will “strengthen this country we love by restoring opportunity, repairing our alliances and standing in the world, and upholding our fundamental commitment to justice, fairness, responsibility, and the rule of law.”

Harder told The Modesto Bee, “It’s good to get some recognition. This shows that a national eye in on this district.” He Tweeted the endorsement to followers, saying he was “honored.”

Denham’s campaign manager, Josh Whitfield, said the Obama endorsement reflects liberal support for Harder.

Trump and Obama both indicate they’re eager to stump for midterm candidates.

Trump has not officially endorsed Denham, R-Turlock, and the president’s camp has not confirmed which candidates will get his money. But McClatchy obtained a detailed list and published it this week.

Denham, whose 51st birthday was Sunday, had been unaware of Trump’s intent, but portrayed the pledge as a typical show of party support. The president will contribute to 100 Republicans running for Congress, according to the list.

Whitfield said, “President Trump supports our efforts in the same way (liberals) support Josh Harder.”

To gain control of Congress, Democrats need to pick up two Senate seats and 23 seats in the House.

Denham first was elected in 2010. The 10th Congressional District covers Stanislaus County and the south part of San Joaquin County.

Obama won a majority of votes here in his 2012 re-election campaign; the district was configured differently when he first was elected in 2008. Voters here favored Hillary Clinton over Trump in 2016.

Garth Stapley: 209-578-2390

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