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Your guide to California’s Congressional District 9 race: Rep. Josh Harder vs. Tom Patti

Democrat Rep. Josh Harder, left, and Republican Tom Patti
Democrat Rep. Josh Harder, left, and Republican Tom Patti are competing to represent California’s 9th Congressional District.
(Associated Press)
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The race in California’s 9th Congressional District pits Democratic Rep. Josh Harder against Republican Tom Patti, a San Joaquin County Supervisor.

San Joaquin County makes up the majority of the district; agriculture is the top industry, but the area is also home to workers commuting to tech-heavy cities in the Bay Area.

Democrats make up 43.5% of registered voters; Republicans, 28.4%; and no party preference, 20.5%.

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Who are the candidates?

When redistricting broke up his current district, Harder moved to the city of Tracy, which is within the boundaries of the new 9th district. He points to his family’s history in Manteca, where his great-great-grandfather settled and started a peach farm.

The congressman, 36, was born and raised in the San Joaquin Valley. He graduated from Stanford and Harvard Business School and worked as an executive of a Silicon Valley venture capital firm before returning in 2017 to run for Congress. In 2018, he unseated Republican Jeff Denham, who had represented the area for years.

In the November midterm election, California is one of the battlefields as Democrats and Republicans fight over control of Congress.

Nov. 5, 2022

Harder has worked on water access and storage, once wading through wetlands in Los Banos with California Department of Fish and Wildlife officials to learn how nutrias, a type of swamp rat, were damaging the Central Valley’s levees and ecosystem. He has also focused on lowering the cost of prescription drugs and bringing agricultural technology and IT jobs to the valley.

On the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors, Patti, 50, helped launch a housing project for veterans and secured funding for a community college’s apprentice program. Patti owns his family’s Delta Crane equipment company.

The Stockton resident has been vocal in his opposition to vaccine requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic. He helped pass a board resolution prohibiting county offices from requiring people to show vaccine proof to gain entry and lauded In-N-Out Burger for “fighting against bullies” after Contra Costa County shut a restaurant down for not checking customers’ vaccination status.

In 2018, Patti was arrested after a collision on Interstate 5. San Joaquin Superior Court records show that he was charged with a misdemeanor DUI in the accident, in which there were no injuries. The state attorney general’s office amended the criminal complaint to a reckless-driving misdemeanor, and Patti, who said he accidentally took the wrong medication, pleaded no contest. Records show he was sentenced to conditional probation for one year.

A former amateur boxer who trained with Mike Tyson, Patti won state and Golden Gloves championships and considered a pro career in the 1980s. Tyson appeared last year at a Beverly Hills fundraiser for Patti.

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Where is District 9?

The 9th Congressional District lies east of the Bay Area and is centered on Stockton.

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Where they stand on abortion

Of the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe vs. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that guaranteed a national right to abortion, Harder said he was outraged and “terrified” of what it would mean for women across the country.

“Six Supreme Court Justices decided that politicians are better suited at making healthcare decisions than a woman and her doctor,” he said. “It’s shameful, and millions of people will suffer because of it.”

He said he supports the state ballot measure that would guarantee abortion protections in California’s constitution and worked to pass the federal Women’s Health Protection Act, which would codify Roe protections. The bill passed the House but does not have the support to pass the Senate. He also voted in favor of the Ensuring Access to Abortion Act, which guards the right to cross state lines for abortion services; that bill also passed the House.

Patti told The Times that his personal opinion on abortion is “irrelevant” but that he believes “a woman has a right to choose her own reproductive health choices.” Patti did not answer when asked whether he would vote to codify Roe. Patti said he would follow the “will of the voters” and believes limits should be set on late-term abortions.

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In an October debate hosted by the Stockton Record, Patti said he does not support a national abortion ban.

“It’s legal in the state of California, and it’ll be remaining legal in the state of California. And I’m not here to get in the way of the very difficult decisions that ... a woman and a doctor may have to make.”

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Their priorities

Harder said his top priority is “getting prices down and making our community an affordable place to raise a family again. We have to cut the federal and state gas taxes costing us almost $1 a gallon, fix our supply chain so we’re not paying an arm and a leg at the store and bring new high-paying jobs to our community so no one has to drive three hours each way for a decent paying job.”

On Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection questionnaire, Patti listed his priorities as: “Lower the cost of living by reining in the reckless spending that has led to record inflation. Lower gas prices by promoting domestic energy production. Empower parents and local schools to make the best decisions for children.”

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How and where to vote

Ballots have been mailed to all 22 million registered voters in the state. Californians can return ballots by mail, drop them at collection boxes or turn them in at voting centers. They can also cast ballots early at voting centers or wait until Nov. 8 to vote at their neighborhood polling places.

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Find out how to register, check voter status and vote here:

Here’s how to vote in the California midterm election, how to register, what to do if you didn’t get mail ballot or if you made a mistake on your ballot.

Nov. 1, 2022

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For more election coverage

California voters head to the polls Nov. 8 to vote for U.S. senator, governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, controller, treasurer, attorney general, superintendent of public instruction, the state Board of Equalization, judges, members of Congress and the state Legislature. Local races in Los Angeles include mayor and county sheriff. There are also seven ballot propositions on the table.

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