Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.), the top benefactor of trucking industry political campaign contributions for the 2018 midterms, has lost his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. It was originally reported last Wednesday, the day after the election, that he appeared to edge out Democratic challenger Josh Harder for California’s 10th District.
It was later found that then-uncounted ballots from the district tilted the race in favour of Harder. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Denham received $104,000 from trucking industry contributors, including more than $20,000 from the American Trucking Associations. Those totals were preliminary figures and did not count any late influxes of donations.
Denham, who first came to Congress as part of the Tea Party wave in the 2010 midterms, had been a strong ally in the House of some trucking-backed initiatives, particularly a measure intended to block California state laws requiring meal breaks and rest breaks for employees from applying to trucking companies. His namesake Denham Amendment, offered several times in recent years in Congress, would have exempted carriers from having to provide drivers with these breaks.
American Trucking Associations was a strong advocate of the measure, arguing that federal hours of service laws supersede any state-level laws regarding drivers’ schedules. The Western States Trucking Association, based in California, was also a strong proponent of exempting carriers from California’s break laws.
After failing to get Congress to act, they’ve now asked the U.S. DOT to intervene and declare the breaks in violation of the 1994 Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act, which stipulates that states cannot enact laws that interfere with “prices, routes or services” of trucking companies.
Aside from Denham, trucking’s other top benefactors in the 2018 midterms also faced tough races, with several of them dropping their re-election bids, too.