As ballots arrive in the mailboxes of District 10 voters this week, Congressman Josh Harder and Republican challenger Ted Howze will join the Turlock Journal editorial staff in downtown Turlock for a livestreamed debate to discuss the issues most important to the Valley.
The debate will be held in the Turlock Journal office starting at 6 p.m. tonight. It marks the first time the two candidates will meet since taking the top two spots in the March primary election, and is likely the only chance voters will have to see them debate before casting their ballots come Nov. 3.
As was the case with the 2018 race between Harder and then-incumbent Republican Jeff Denham, the election for District 10 this year promises to be another close contest. While Harder received the most votes following the primary election with 44.1 percent, Republicans grabbed just over half of the overall vote.
The election and Congressional race are different than 2018, however, in that this time, campaigns are taking place during a global pandemic. While the Journal hosted a well-attended — and even boisterous at times — debate at the Carnegie Arts Center two years ago, this year the stage will look quite different.
The 2020 Congressional District 10 Debate between Harder and Howze will not feature a live audience due to COVID-19, but rather a livestream audience. There are a few ways constituents will be able to watch the event: the Turlock Journal YouTube page, the Turlock Journal Facebook page or the Turlock Journal website, www.turlockjournal.com.
Questions have been carefully crafted by the Journal staff with community input and include a variety of topics critical to life in District 10: pandemic recovery, healthcare, immigration, water and more. The Journal also hand-picked a few questions from our readers and those interested in submitting a question still have time to do so by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition, livestream viewers will have the opportunity to leave questions they’d like to see answered by the candidates in the comment section of the video.
With social distancing measures in place, both Harder and Howze are looking forward to the debate despite the lack of a physical audience.
“I'm excited to get in front of the voters so they can hear from me directly about my plan to protect Medicare, make healthcare more accessible, support law enforcement and lower their cost of living,” said Howze. “The congressman and his special-interests allies have spent millions on attack ads against me over the last few weeks. They are worried about their own record and for good reason, people want change. So, this debate is a great opportunity for straight talk.”
Even though barbs have been traded between the two campaigns through media and advertising, it’s Harder’s hope as well that this debate will focus on the issues.
“I'm looking forward to discussing how we can support our community during this tough time,” Harder said. “We have a ton to talk about — especially the need to put politics aside to get our families and small businesses relief. I’m proud to be the most bipartisan representative in Congress and to have brought back the first federal funding for a new water storage project for our district in 50 years. I’m hopeful the debate can be about our ideas and what we’ve gotten done, and maybe a little less interrupting than the presidential debate.”