MODESTO (CBS13) — The economy, immigration, and healthcare are just some of the top issues voters in California’s 10th district want their new representative to focus on when he gets into office.
Democratic candidate Josh Harder has been declared the winner of the district, beating out longtime Republican incumbent Jeff Denham.
As the ballot count is finalized, political analysts are expecting the support for Harder to grow. Modesto attorney Lisa Battista, a volunteer with the California Democratic Party, says Harder’s win came as a surprise.
“It was a very close race … Jeff Denham has been hard to beat in this district for several election cycles, so it never felt like it was in the bag, never for a minute,” she said.
Harder was declared the winner beating out longtime incumbent Denham even though there are still more than 17,000 ballots left to tally.
“We’re delighted. There has been a huge group of activists from Tracy to Turlock here in California’s District 10 who have worked nonstop for over a year and a half on trying to find a good candidate,” she said.
On Wednesday, Denham conceded the race. Supporters say with a 5,000 vote lead, the margin is just too large for Denham to defeat. Political analysts say Harder’s win demonstrates the way in which elections have become nationalized.
“Congressional races used to be about the local district [and] local issues, and this campaign wasn’t about those things. It was about Nancy Pelosi, it was about health care, it was about Trump,” said Keith Smith, associate professor of political science, at the University of the Pacific.
In a statement, Harder pledged to be a member of Congress for the entire district regardless of political party. Denham, who served for eight years, thanked his constituents calling his time in office an honor.
A spokesperson for Harder said he is in Washington D.C. for a new member orientation. He will likely address the media early next week.