Democrat candidate Josh Harder has defeated Republican incumbent Jeff Denham in the race for California’s 10th district. Not only is this worrying regarding the California Republican Party, which has now lost at least four seats in the state, but it’s also concerning for Afghan interpreter Muhammad Kamran, who just lost his most involved advocate in Congress.
POLITICO reported that Harder “had a lead of approximately 4,900 votes when the race was called.” Denham, a four-term representative and United States Air Force veteran, previously won his seat by 3 percentage points in 2016.
Yesterday, former Assembly Republican leader Kristin Olsen wrote an op-ed in which she declared, “The California Republican Party isn’t salvageable at this time. The Grand Old Party is dead – partly because it has failed to separate itself from today’s toxic, national brand of Republican politics.” Olsen wrote about the necessity for California Republicans to “adapt to changing demographics” and urged them to “get back to our basic fundamental belief in liberty and responsibility, freedom, economic opportunity, and educational excellence.”
Unfortunately, Denham’s loss could have deadly consequences for Muhammad Kamran, an Afghan interpreter who aided the U.S. military for a decade and who has now been targeted by the Taliban as a result of that work. Kamran has applied for both refugee status and humanitarian parole, but he has been denied for “security reasons,” despite a letter of recommendation from an American service member who worked alongside him in Afghanistan and an American family willing to sponsor him.
Denham was the first member of Congress to fight on Kamran’s behalf, which included persuading 38 members of Congress to send a bipartisan letter to the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielson, to learn the reasons behind denying Kamran’s refugee application. According to Kristy Perano, a Cornell University Ph.D. student whose family offered to sponsor Kamran and his family, Denham “stepped up without hesitation,” and his staff has worked “tirelessly” to help Kamran.
With Denham leaving Congress, let’s hope one of his former colleagues — or one of the newly-elected members — takes up the fight on behalf of Kamran and other humanitarian issues like his.
The views expressed here are those of the author and do not represent those of any other individual or entity. Follow Sarah on Twitter: @sarahmquinlan.