In a stunning move brought about by the tumult resulting from redistricting in California, Josh Harder just announced he will now be running for Congress in California District 9, a slot previously designated for Representative Jerry McNerney, who is stepping down.
Harder had only recently announced for District 13, which includes a large swath of Adam Gray’s current Assembly District. Persistent rumors have circulated that Gray was also thought well-suited for that district, but Harder had declared first. A recent Tweet had Gray announcing a run against Harder, but Gray disowned the Tweet. Now, however, he will indeed run in District 13.
Today, Harder announced via social media he was declaring for District 9. Insiders immediately began speculating that Democratic Party power players had brokered a deal that would put two rising Dem stars in position to capitalize on their experience and popularity.
In 2006, McNerney rocked the political world when he upset seven-term incumbent Richard Pombo, a Republican most observers thought invulnerable. Since then, McNerney has been a steady and responsive representative for his district. As of today, he had not yet filed for another run. It’s now apparent he was planning to retire from office.
Gray would have termed out of his Assembly position in 2024. It seems likely the Democratic Party did not want to lose a popular leader, especially in a region where Democrats struggle. McNerney’s withdrawal opened the way for two rising young stars with a proven ability to win.
Like McNerney, Harder upset a powerful Republican when he defeated Jeff Denham in 2018. With a strong record of bipartisan achievement and a position on the Appropriations Committee, Harder has shown a remarkable ability to connect with people across the entire political spectrum.
Gray has been proactive in the water wars that have dominated the political environment of California since statehood. A staunch defender of his constituents’ rights to water, he’s been a dominant winner in every Assembly campaign he’s joined.
Now, both Harder and Gray have the opportunity to continue their good work for the San Joaquin Valley in Washington D.C. They still face arduous campaigns, but both have been tested repeatedly and emerged victorious. Their win is also a win for the Valley.