Josh Harder ’08 hopes to lead California’s 9th district after redistricting

May 12, 2022, 11:46 p.m.

U.S. Representative Josh Harder ’08 (D-CA-10) said he hopes to win the vacant 9th district seat in November amid one of California’s tightest U.S. Congressional races. 

Following the 2020 census, California reconfigured U.S. congressional districts across the state to accommodate the loss of a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, which took California from 53 seats to 52. While election experts expect District 10 to elect a Democrat in November, the majority of the new 10th district encompasses the territory of the current 11th district, which is held by four-term incumbent Mark DeSaulnier. The 10th district, in which Harder currently serves, also holds parts of Central Valley county San Joaquin, which will entirely fall within the new 9th district. 

Harder will face a nonpartisan primary election on June 7 against three other Democrats, three Republicans and an Independent. The two candidates who receive the greatest shares of votes will compete against each other in a general election on Nov. 8. 

“This campaign is one of a handful of races that will determine whether we can protect Congress from a Republican takeover in 2022,” Harder wrote in a statement to the Daily. House Republicans are planning a comprehensive legislative agenda addressing social policy, immigration, economy and energy that runs contrary to President Biden’s current direction.

Harder and his campaign team are putting together a “historic grassroots operation” to knock on doors in “every corner of our community and ensure voters know what’s at stake this fall,” he wrote. “When our democracy is on the line, every voter and every volunteer matters.”

Harder, who was elected to Congress in 2018, wrote that his motivation to run came from “watching the same politicians go around and around on the same issues while nothing gets done.” One of the youngest members of the federal legislature at age 35, Harder wrote that his mission is to represent his generation and champion for the future of America’s youngest. He also recalled he and his wife having their first daughter and being motivated “by the simple fact that we need to do more to ensure we’re handing her a better and fairer world,” he wrote. 

“I’m running as a part of a new generation of leaders who will put the old fights behind us and make progress on what’s actually most important,” he wrote.

Harder is one of the most vocal defenders of his community and Americans at large within the U.S. Congress, according to Camille Torres, Harder’s campaign manager.

“As one of the few Latina Campaign Managers in the country, it’s an honor to work for a Member who empowers voices like mine in the fight to create a more representative Democracy,” Torres wrote to the Daily. “Rep. Harder has proven time and time again that he understands the issues of his community and understands what politics is really about — delivering real leadership for our communities when it matters most.”

The nonpartisan Center for Effective Lawmaking ranked Harder at number four in its “top performing freshmen” list for the 116th Congress, which ran from January 2019 to January 2021. In Congress’ current session, Harder has introduced legislation to expand child care, bolster veterans’ healthcare, increase accessibility to higher education, combat gas price gouging and improve awareness of healthcare options.

Harder, whose younger brother has struggled with significant health challenges throughout his life, expresses a strong personal commitment to fight for affordable healthcare — particularly for those with pre-existing conditions. “A health care system that delivers anyone the care they need” ranks among “policies we can’t wait any longer for,” Harder wrote.

Harder added that he similarly prioritizes combating climate change, protecting democracy, creating economic stability and “making sure that anyone, no matter who they are or where they come from, has access to an education they can afford.”

Public policy and urban studies lecturer Lawrence Litvak, who donated to and worked with Harder’s 2020 re-election campaign, wrote that Harder’s defining quality is his belief “in the ability of government to help people improve their lives.” Litvak also praised Harder — a member of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus — for his ability to communicate and work with the other side of the aisle.

“He’s an innovative thinker, persuasive communicator, and coalition builder,” Litvak wrote in a statement to the Daily. “These characteristics have enabled Congressman Harder to be elected to Congress twice in highly contested races and to serve as a very effective legislator once elected.”

Harder said that he seeks to connect with his communities and enrich the democratic process — including through accepting Stanford Students interested in joining his campaign.

“Not only is this going to be one of the most competitive elections in the country, it’s also the closest race to Stanford!” Harder wrote. “So if you’re looking for a way to get involved this summer or fall, reach out to our campaign and we’ll plug you right in.”

This article has been corrected to reflect the correct spelling of Lawrence Litvak’s name. The Daily regrets this error.

Jed Ngalande '23 is the politics and government beat reporter for The Daily's news section. Contact him at news 'at' stanforddaily.com.

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