District 10 cliff-hanger be­tween Den­ham, Harder still tee­ter­ing

The Modesto Bee - - Local - BY GARTH STAPLEY gsta­p­ley@mod­bee.com Garth Stapley: 209-578-2390

Repub­li­can in­cum­bent Jeff Den­ham held a lead Wed­nes­day over Demo­cratic chal­lenger Josh Harder, who hopes he’ll pick up ground in the 10th Con­gres­sional District race as elec­tion work­ers con­tinue pro­cess­ing sev­eral thou­sand bal­lots yet to count in Stanis­laus and San Joaquin coun­ties.

“Our cam­paign re­mains con­fi­dent with the re­turns we have seen,” Josh Whit­field, Den­ham’s cam­paign man­ager, said in an email Wed­nes­day. His boss, first elected in 2010, was ahead with 50.6 per­cent and a mar­gin of 1,287 votes

among 112,115 tal­lied so far, but mounds of last-minute pro­vi­sional and con­di­tional bal­lots await count­ing, and re­sults could be weeks away.

Harder seems to be pre­par­ing for le­gal ac­tion. He emailed sup­port­ers Wed­nes­day ask­ing for money to “hire a lawyer and make sure we have ev­ery­thing we need to win this fair and square.”

Late bal­lots his­tor­i­cally tend to fa­vor Demo­cratic can­di­dates, which could bode well for Harder, said Keith Smith, an as­so­ciate po­lit­i­cal sci­ence pro­fes­sor with Stock­ton’s Univer­sity of the Pa­cific.

How­ever, last-minute ef­forts by Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump to rally the Repub­li­can base might have prompted many to vote who oth­er­wise might not have, said Bob Benedetti, a re­search as­so­ciate for the Cen­ter for Cal­i­for­nia Stud­ies at Sacra­mento State Univer­sity. “You can make the ar­gu­ment ei­ther way,” he said Wed­nes­day in a phone in­ter­view.

Smith said, “It’s too close, and we won’t know for weeks” the win­ner.

Harder, after a long night await­ing re­turns, said Wed­nes­day on the phone he was “feel­ing like we did ev­ery­thing we could to leave it all on the field.” He said he was con­cerned at re­ports of prob­lems some vot­ers en­coun­tered Tues­day at polling sta­tions, prompt­ing a rare emer­gency hear­ing be­fore a Stanis­laus Su­pe­rior Court judge shortly be­fore polls closed.

The judge de­clined to or­der that polls stay open longer than nor­mal to ac­com­mo­date vot­ers who ran into trou­ble with pro­vi­sional bal­lots. County elec­tions lead­ers said some sta­tions didn’t have enough en­velopes for such late bal­lots, but de­nied that vot­ers were turned away.

“We’re go­ing to fight to make sure ev­ery per­son who wanted to vote, did, and to get it all counted,” Harder said Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon.

Wed­nes­day evening, Harder emailed sup­port­ers ask­ing for donations. “We’ll need to keep our staff on for a lit­tle longer, hire a lawyer and make sure we have ev­ery­thing we need to win this fair and square,” the email said.

The Harder-Den­ham race was among sev­eral tar­geted by Democrats ea­ger to re­gain con­trol of the House, which they did by virtue of Demo­cratic wins else­where.

The change will douse Den­ham’s hope, if he wins, of be­com­ing chair- man of the pow­er­ful House Trans­porta­tion and In­fra­struc­ture Com­mit­tee. The ma­jor­ity party con­trols lead­er­ship of such pan­els.

Peo­ple in the 10th District cast 125,705 midterm bal­lots four years ago. It’s be­lieved that far more were cast Tues­day, but only 112,115 had been tal­lied as of early Wed­nes­day, sug­gest­ing a long wait for fi­nal re­sults.

Stanis­laus Clerk-Recorder Lee Lun­dri­gan said “mul­ti­ple thou­sands” of pro­vi­sional bal­lots await count­ing, and would not haz­ard a guess as to when a more de­fin­i­tive num­ber of those left to process might be re­leased. San Joaquin County also has thou­sands yet to process, its elec­tions of­fice said; San Joaquin’s num­ber will be pin­pointed Thurs­day and an up­dated count will be re­leased Fri­day.

Jeff Den­ham

Josh Harder

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