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Denham, Harder face off in fall
Fight over congressional seat expected to be fierce
Josh Harder

Incumbent Congressman Jeff Denham will be on the November ballot following the June 5 primary election, facing off against Democrat Josh Harder.

Denham, a Republican, collected 35,150 votes, or 37.8 percent, over Harder’s 15,545 votes, or 16.7 percent. Eliminated because of their smaller vote counts were Democrats Sue Zwahlen, Michael Eggman, Virginia Madueno, Mike Barkley and Dotty Nygard (who was on the ballot, but dropped out of the race) and Republican Ted Howze.

 “It feels good. We’ve been working hard for a year and a half and it’s nice to see things are looking up,” Harder said of the results. 

“Given the fact that we had the only ground game and field program today, the day-of election ballots are going to be pretty good for us,” Harder said.

Jeff Denham
Republican Congressman Jeff Denham (pictured here while campaigning on Whitmore Avenue during the May 2016 Ceres Street Faire Parade, is reportedly being considered to become President Trump's next Secretary of the Interior. - photo by Jeff Benziger

Howze, who challenged Denham as a conservative Republican, picked up 13,398 votes, or 14.4 percent of the vote. He said he believes that his campaign shattered everyone’s expectations.

“We knew we were threading the eye of the political needle,” offered Howze, a Turlock veterinarian. “I think people underestimated the power of the campaign we could run with only 90 days to do it.”

Howze’s strong showing in the election shows how voter opinion has changed in District 10, Harder opined.

“I think it’s good news for the district. Ted Howze’s success shows another group of Independents and Republicans that are really upset with Jeff Denham,” Harder said. “It’s a wholesale rejection of an agenda that doesn’t represent this district at all.”

Michael Eggman, who now has three unsuccessful quests to take on Denham on his record, collected only 9,453 votes, or 10.2 percent.

A former Riverbank mayor, Virginia Madueno claimed 9.1 percent of the vote with 8,486 votes.

Zwahlen, a nurse and former Modesto school board trustee, collected 8,029 votes, or 8.6 percent.

Perennial Congressional candidate Michael Barkley of Manteca finished in a dismal last place with 2,136 votes, or 2.3 percent.

Although she was on the ballot after withdrawing from the race, Nygard finished with 832 votes, or 0.9 percent.

The outcome shows just how polarized the 10th Congressional district has become.  The six Democrat candidates collected 44,481 votes while the two GOP candidates picked up a collective 48,548 votes.

Denham won his last re-election bid in 2014 by a margin of 56 percent to 44 percent; and in 2016 by a smaller margin of 51.7 percent to 48.3 percent, a spread of 3.4 percent.