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Bay Area Dumps Another $500K to Help Democrat Josh Harder in Rural Seat

Josh Harder (Justin Sullivan / Getty)
Justin Sullivan / Getty
CHRISS W. STREET
Newport Beach, CA

The San Francisco Bay Area kicked in another $500,000 to Democrat challenger Josh Harder’s campaign in October in an all-out effort to flip California’s 10th congressional district House in the Central Valley, held by Republican incumbent Jeff Denham.

First-time Democrat candidate Harder, whose main political pledge is “Medicare for All,” had raised a stunning $7,003,682 for his 2018 campaign for the seat in the mostly rural Stanislaus County through Oct. 17, according to OpenSecrets.

Despite Republican Jeff Denham being a fixture of the local community as a two-term state Senator and four-term U.S. Congressman, he had only raised $4,418,276, or about 60 percent of what Harder raised through Oct. 17, according to OpenSecrets.

Although Democrat Harder went to Modesto High School, he graduated from Stanford; received dual masters’ degrees from Harvard Business School and Harvard Kennedy School of Public Policy; and worked for the Gates Foundation. Until 2017, Harder had not voted in the district since 2008, and was registered to vote in Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco district in 2016. Harder changed his registration from San Francisco to Stanislaus County before filing to run for Congress.

The outsider strategy worked for fundraising, as San Francisco, San Jose, New York, Oakland, and Washington, DC, became Harder’s top five metropolitan contribution areas. Harder only raised $130,206, or about 2.3 percent, from his home district, according to OpenSecrets.

The massive funding difference allowed Harder to spend over $6 million to the Republican’s less than $3.2 million through mid-October. But Denham seemed to have an advantage with almost twice the cash on hand as Harder in the final three-week campaign push.

Denham’s campaign highlighted on Saturday that Harder had pulled in over $500,000 from Bay Area donors during October to continue spending his way to victory. The Denham campaign pointed out that that over $3.4 million, or almost half, of Harder’s cash came from the Bay Area, including over $1 million from San Francisco.

The Denham campaign complained that Harder has been staffing his local effort with over 1,000 “Swing Left” Bay Area volunteers driving east along the 580 Interstate Freeway to sway the rural voters. “Swing Left” is advertising on Facebook that it is providing busing in last days of the campaign to saturate Stanislaus County farming communities with even more urban community organizers.

Denham stated in a press release that he believes urban Democrats’ effort to flip his seat is directly tied to his successful initiative to convince Republican President Donald Trump to issue a memorandum to stop water policies that have favored fish over farmers: “I’ve enlisted the Administration to bring water to the Valley while Bay Area liberals work to steal our water.”

Republican gubernatorial candidate John Cox campaigned with Denham on Sunday, stressing water issues.

The race is considered a toss-up.

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