Harris urges fighting ‘NRA-backed’ Denham. But his rival isn’t stressing gun control

California Sen. Kamala Harris is using a gun control message to urge support for promising Democrats — even if the Democrat isn’t using curbs on guns as a big deal in his campaign.

Harris Wednesday sent out a fundraising email Wednesday afternoon calling for more than $125,000 to be donated to Democrat Josh Harder’s campaign for a tossup California House seat. Harris urged backers to fight Republicans supported by the National Rifle Association, such as Harder’s opponent Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif.

But Harder’s ads and public statements focus on economic issues, health care and immigration. His campaign website lists reducing gun violence as the ninth of 12 priorities on the page, and lists first that the rights of “responsible gun owners to be able to hunt and protect their home” needs to be respected.

“I don’t want to change anything for gun owners here in the Central Valley, but take our reforms and institute them nationwide,” the campaign website says.

Denham has supported looser gun regulations. He has co-sponsored a bill that would allow those licensed to carry a concealed firearm in one state to carry concealed in any state and another bill loosening restrictions on interstate gun purchases.

Denham is considered one of the nation’s most vulnerable Republicans. He represents a district that voted for Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016. He has been heavily targeted by Democrats in their bid to flip the House.

The NRA Political Victory Fund publicly endorsed Denham in his 2016 race and its website indicated they also endorse him for 2018 and give him an “A” rating. The Brady Campaign, a group advocating for more gun regulation, has endorsed Harder.

A Denham campaign spokesman, who asked not to be named, when asked for comment, seized on the fundraising email as further proof Harder is a “Bay Area liberal,” a frequent criticism of Harder by Denham’s campaign.

“Josh Harder doesn’t support the Second Amendment,” the campaign spokesman said. “If he did he would reject this effort from Sen. Kamala Harris.”

Harris, who has been seriously considering a presidential run in 2020, has raised more than $5 million for Democratic candidates in 2018, according to office spokeswoman Lily Adams. In a single email last week, she reportedly raised more than $400,000 for vulnerable Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-North Dakota, after Heitkamp announced she would vote against then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Other House members on Murphy and Harris’ list were Mike Levin, competing for the seat of retiring Rep. Darrell Issa, R-California; Jacky Rosen, challenging Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nevada; Susan Wild, in the race for a redistricted Pennsylvania House seat without an incumbent; Lizzie Fletcher, challenging Rep. John Culberson, R-Texas; Jennifer Wexton, challenging Rep. Barbara Comstock, R-Virginia; Jason Crow, challenging Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colorado; and Collin Allred, challenging Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas.

Kate Irby: 202-383-6071; @KateIrby