This is the first in a series of blog posts about the seven California Republicans who voted to repeal Obamacare and who represent districts Hillary Clinton carried. We’re highlighting them in order of their distance from the Bay Area because if we’re really going to throw 24 million people to the wolves, the least we can do is focus our ire.
Jeff Denham is a law-and-order Republican from Turlock in the Central Valley. Yesterday, he voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act, whose terrible consequences are increasingly well-known.
Denham represents California’s 10th district, which includes Modesto, Manteca, and Tracy. You know when you’re driving to L.A. via Interstate 580 and you pass Livermore and you think, “Oh shit, I’m not even on the 5 yet and it’s 114 degrees in here and I’m already depressed by the scenery and I have like four more hours of this and what is that smell?” That’s how you know you’ve entered Denham’s district.
2018 is a long way away, but members of a sitting president’s party usually lose seats in midterm elections — and the four-term Denham was already a vulnerable incumbent before yesterday’s vote. He won a third term in the Republican wave year of 2014 by a comfy 56-44 — but in 2016, he squeaked by, 52-48. More ominously for his political future, Hillary Clinton carried the 10th by three points, 48-45. In other words, it’s trending blue underfoot.
And what do you know, Denham has already drawn a challenger, 30-year-old political newbie Josh Harder, whom the Mercury News reports is a venture capitalist who went to Stanford University, Harvard Business School and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. That pedigree and his fundraising networks could make him a formidable foe.
In fairness, Denham is not altogether terrible. In 2016, he was one of 42 Republicans to enshrine Pres. Obama’s executive order banning discrimination by federal contractors on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. And because his district has a large Latino population, he’s more sensible than many of his colleagues on immigration issues. An Air Force veteran, he wants to make it easier for non-citizens who serve in the military to become naturalized.
However, the AHCA is a genuinely malevolent piece of legislation that does nothing positive for anybody but the very richest Americans, and it’s wantonly cruel besides. (A whopping 40 percent of Denham’s district is on Medi-Cal, too! Way to serve your constituents, dude.) The bill’s future is in doubt — but the future of every heartless legislator who voted for it should be, too. And judging by the overwhelming anger of the 1,100 comments on Denham’s recent FB post about his vote, he’s hip-deep in shit already.
Maximum firepower, Bay Area progressives. Target at will. And let Rep. Denham know how you feel, at 202-225-4540.