Harder declared winner over Denham in Congressional race

Josh Harder beat Jeff Denham in the race for the House seat in District 10 after an updated vote count Tuesday night gave the Turlock native an insurmountable lead.

Both The Associated Press and Cook Political called the race in favor of the Democrat, who unseated the four-term Republican who also calls Turlock home.

District 10 covers all of Stanislaus County and parts of San Joaquin County.

“Pam and I want to thank the people of our community for the humbling privilege to serve you in Congress,” Harder, 32, wrote in a statement issued Tuesday night. “This has been a hard fought campaign and we congratulate Congressman Denham and his family for his service to our nation in the military and to this district in Congress.

“I want to thank the unprecedented grassroots effort that supported this campaign — people who knocked doors, made phone calls and worked so hard on this race.”

A Denham campaign staff member said Denham, 51, would not be issuing a statement Tuesday night.

The AP called the race based on updated figures from the Secretary of State website that had Harder garnering 51.3 percent of the vote over Denham’s 48.7 percent. Harder, with 96,320 votes, leads Denham, who has 91,401. The AP said that with 185,000 votes counted, it’s “a margin too large for the congressman to overcome with remaining votes.”

Dave Wasserman, U.S. House editor of Cook Political Report, also called the race.

Ben Ray Luján, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, wrote: “Congratulations to Josh Harder on an incredible campaign – it was truly a campaign of the Valley, for the Valley. Josh’s historic victory is a testament to the grassroots energy behind his campaign, which was disciplined and laser-focused on the kitchen table issues that Central Valley families face every day. I know Josh will continue to be a fierce advocate for the Valley in Congress – and look forward to working with him in Washington.”

The hotly contested race captured attention from around the nation as Denham was declared one of the “vulnerable” Republicans heading into last week’s election with Democrats hoping to take the majority in the House.

By the the time the initial vote count dropped in Stanislaus County, Democrats, by virtue of what was happening east of California, already had won the majority of Congressional seats.

The initial count in Stanislaus County hours after polls closed had Denham clinging to a small lead with thousands of ballots left to count. On Friday night, however, with the release of a second wave of ballots, Harder had taken the lead at nearly 51 percent.

“I pledge to be a member of Congress for this entire district regardless of political party, regardless of who you voted for,” Harder said in his statement Tuesday night. “Washington is broken because our leaders have put party over country — I pledge that I will always put this community before anything in Washington.”