Denham’s support for Trump draws fire from Democratic rival


Rep. Jeff Denham’s opponent in the Nov. 8 election pounced on the news that the incumbent will vote for Donald Trump for president.

Democrat Michael Eggman’s campaign said the announcement, which the Republican congressman made in a guest opinion in The Modesto Bee, confirms that he is out of touch with voters.

“Central Valley families will resoundingly reject Donald Trump and anyone who supports Trump’s bigoted agenda,” Eggman campaign manager Josh Lord said in a news release.

Denham wrote that he often finds Trump’s rhetoric “disturbing, inappropriate and outlandish,” but he still prefers him to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Denham cited Trump’s call for increased water supplies in the Valley and the fact that the next president will nominate at least one Supreme Court justice.

Denham is seeking a fourth two-year term in the 10th Congressional District, which takes in Stanislaus and southern San Joaquin counties. Eggman, a commercial beekeeper and almond grower, lost to the incumbent in 2014 by a margin of 56 to 44 percent.

The GOP’s nomination of Trump, a billionaire with a penchant for provocative remarks, has put Republican office-holders in a delicate spot. Rep. David Valadao of Hanford has come out against him. The endorsers include Rep. Tom McClintock, whose district takes in Tuolumne and other mountain counties, and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, announced Monday that she would not vote for Trump, citing three main reasons: He appeared to mock a reporter with a muscular disorder in a video last year. At another time, he complained that he could not get fair treatment in a lawsuit over Trump University because of the judge’s Mexican heritage. More recently, Trump feuded with the parents of a Muslim soldier killed while serving with the U.S. Army in Iraq.

Central Valley families will resoundingly reject Donald Trump and anyone who supports Trump’s bigoted agenda.

Josh Lord, Eggman campaign manager

Collins made her announcement before the latest brouhaha – Trump seeming to suggest that gun-rights supporters do violence to Clinton.

Trump also has drawn fire for calling for a wall along the Mexican border – an issue of interest in a district with many Latino voters. And the Eggman campaign needled him for claiming that the drought is not natural but rather an effort by government to divert water from farms to fish.

“Valley voters deserve a representative who will stand up for them,” Lord said, “not stand with dangerous demagogues who don’t even recognize the very serious water issues that our farmers face.”

Denham had not commented publicly about Trump until his Bee piece, which responded to an editorial pressing him to state a position. The congressman said the newspaper made this matter a “litmus test” rather than issues of interest to voters. He noted endorsements he has received from business, labor, law enforcement and other groups.

“These groups and many others did not base their endorsement on who I support for president, they based it on my record in Congress – a record I am proud of,” he wrote.

He is talking to Valley voters about issues they care about – water, jobs, security, etc.

Dave Gilliard, Denham campaign spokesman

Denham did not use the word “endorsement” in his piece about Trump. He did write that he “will cast a vote for the candidate who I believe will do the best job protecting our nation, defending our Constitution and addressing the serious economic issues facing the Valley, especially the water crisis.”

Denham was not available to further discuss the matter with The Bee.

“He is talking to Valley voters about issues they care about – water, jobs, security, etc.,” campaign spokesman Dave Gilliard said by email. “Trump rarely comes up. In fact, the only people focused on Trump seem to work at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in Washington and The Bee.”

John Holland: 209-578-2385