Welcome to “Meet a Competitive House Race,” a Paste feature in which we highlight—you guessed it—a competitive 2018 House race from somewhere in America. Between now and election day, we’ll hopefully hit them all. You can see a full list of other House races we’ve profiled at the bottom of this page.
What’s the deal with today’s district? Where is it?
Today, we look into California’s 10th Congressional District, located near the center of the state and encompassing Stanislaus County and portions of San Joaquin County. Here you’ll find small cities like Oakdale (cowboy capital of the world!) and Manteca.
Who lives there? How do they vote?
The district has a slight and shrinking white plurality at 46 percent, followed by 43 percent Hispanic or Latino (including a healthy immigrant population), and only 3 percent black or African American. Despite California being a traditionally blue state, the 10th district has voted a Republican Representative, Jeff Denham, into office in the past two elections. Before Denham, democrats John Garamendi and Ellen Tauscher held the seat since 1997. The district has a pattern in its house representative history of switching back and forth between Democrats and Republicans.
Is Trump going to screw the Republican?
Definitely. No one fights Trump on immigration reform and remains in office to tell the tale.
Give me some more background
Since Trump’s election, Denham has been fighting with the party’s leaders for his version of immigration reform, which allows people who entered the country illegally as children to have the option to become a citizen if they serve in the U.S. military. Denham crafted a bill which failed on May 22. Trump isn’t one to keep people around who disagree with his ideas on immigration, one of the main platforms of his 2016 campaign.
What’s up with the Republican(s)?
Denham has been the Representative for California since Jan. 3, 2013. According to Ballotpedia), Denham should have lost in the 2016 election. He won, by only 3.4 percent, despite Hilary Clinton beating Donald Trump in the same district.
So far, Denham has raised the most campaign contributions at $2,657,555. He is a Hawthorne, Calif. native who served in the U.S. Air Force and the California State Senate before his seven years in the House. According to his website, Denham’s platform includes representing long-term interests in the Valley’s agricultural community, creating a solution to the struggle over water storage and transport, improving infrastructure, and fighting for protection and benefits for veterans.
During his time in office, Denham has voted in support of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection (pro-life) Act, No Sanctuary for Criminals (immigration reform) Act, American Health Care Act (reforming Obamacare) and so on. He has consistently voted in favor of everything Trump wants, with his main slip-up being his failed immigration bill. Capitol Weekly publishes a weekly scorecard based on how each state legislature votes so as to determine their political leanings. On the score card, the liberal score is “0” and the conservative score is “100.” Denham is currently scored as a 17.
What’s up with the Democrat(s)?
Michael Eggman is challenging Denham for the third time after losing by only three points in the 2016 election. He has raised the least amount of campaign contributions with just $183,464. Eggman is a working-class Turlock native who served as the manager of his family’s almond farm and apiary, as well as an employee of a bank and heath insurance company. According to his website, his platform includes affordable healthcare, creating a clean DREAM Act to tackle immigration issues, standing up for women’s rights, supporting small businesses with a fair tax code, creating jobs and protecting Social Security and Medicare.
Josh Harder is also a Democrat worth discussing, as he has recently been included among the top candidates. In the midst of the conflict between Eggman and Denham, who have gone head-to-head in the past two elections, Harder is an unexpected but serious challenger. It’s Harder’s first time running for office and so far he has raised $1,277,408 in campaign contributions. He is a Harvard graduate who worked for Bessemer Venture Partners and the Boston Consulting Group, as well as working with nonprofit organizations such as the Gates Foundation.
According to his website, Harder’s platform includes fighting for Medicare for all Americans, encouraging fair and humane immigration reform including relief for Dreamers, creating jobs for the Valley, building a sustainable water future for the Central Valley, ending Citizens United and instituting electoral reform, defending women’s rights and access to healthcare, creating quality public schools, protecting the environment and reducing gun violence.
What do the polls say?
Incumbent Denham is being challenged by seven opponents in the June 5 primary. This race has been declared a toss-up. The polls show Denham ahead of both Eggman and Harder, but reveal Eggman as the only candidate “able to defeat Denham in a head-to-head.” As of now, the polls predict Denham winning by another narrow margin at 45 percent over Eggman with 41 percent. If the top-two primary (more on that below) is between Harder and Denham, they show Denham winning with 48 percent over Harder’s 37 percent.
What’s weird about the district?
California’s primary voting system places all candidates, of both parties, on the same ballot. Once the votes are counted, the top two candidates advance into the general election regardless of party affiliation. This system is known as a top-two primary system, and it creates the possibility of a divided field sending two candidates of the same party onto the general election.
Give me a prediction
Due to the probable lack of support from Trump after Denham’s failed immigration bill, and the small margin in the polls between Denham and Eggman, we will go with Eggman on this one, hoping the third time’s the charm.
—Nebraska 2nd: Don Bacon vs. Brad Ashford or Kara Eastman
—California 48th: Dana Rohrabacher, vs. some Democrat, eventually
—Florida 26th: Carlos Curbelo vs. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell
—Colorado 6th: Mike Coffman vs. Jason Crow
—Washington 8th: Dino Rossi vs. too many infighting Dems
—Iowa 1st: Rod Blum vs. Probably Abby Finkenauer