Wrong Josh! California Rep. Josh Harder Flooded With Angry Messages Meant for Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley

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Then-congressional candidate Josh Harder speaks to supporters at an election night event on Nov. 6, 2018 in Modesto, California. Harder went on to defeat incumbent Republican Jeff Denham to represent the 10th Congressional District. (Alex Edelman/Getty Images)

Since the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, U.S. Democratic Rep. Josh Harder, from Modesto, has been on the receiving end of some very angry messages.

"Lots of letters and emails and social media posts from folks, and my reaction initially and still now is just really one of understanding. I mean, I think people have a right to be mad," Harder said.

The second-term congressman says people all over the country, including those in his own district, have been letting him know they're upset about the violence that occurred that day and the lawmakers who refused to accept the election results. They've called Harder "an idiot" and an "insurrectionist." Some have even demanded he resign.

The only problem: They got the wrong Josh. The messages were intended for Josh Hawley, Missouri’s Republican senator.


"We were getting calls into our office from folks who lived in our area and didn't quite understand," Harder said. "Maybe they saw a snapshot of the news. And we've been very eager to clean the mix-up."

The political views of Harder and Hawley couldn’t be more different. Harder is a solid Democrat who voted to confirm the Electoral College results and to impeach former President Donald Trump.

Hawley, on the other hand, led the charge in the U.S. Senate to challenge those results and was notoriously photographed outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 with his fist in the air, showing solidarity with the protesters just before the violence ensued.

Over the last month, Harder has received a slew of messages from people upset with the Republican lawmakers who refused to accept the election results or condemn Trump for his role in inciting the riot.

"Some of them were maybe a little bit over the top. But I certainly understand the frustration," Harder said. "Josh Hawley encouraged the violent mob that led to the death of five people in our nation's capital. And there should be accountability for that."

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Harder says the confusion is easy to understand — and his office has even taken advantage of the mistake by sending out a fundraising pitch asking supporters to "stand with the correct Josh H."

Meanwhile, Hawley — the other Josh — has also been on the receiving end of fierce criticism, including from his mentor, former Missouri Sen. John Danforth, who said he regretted endorsing Hawley in 2018. Missouri newspapers, including the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Kansas City Star, have issued scathing editorials condemning Hawley.

But like Harder, Hawley is also purportedly benefiting from the criticism he's received. His campaign claims that January was a record-setting month for fundraising, with additional cash flowing in from those who supported his effort to overturn the election.

Harder, for the record, says he has never actually spoken to Hawley. And amid all the recent confusion and division, he says he sees a silver lining.

"In some ways it's actually encouraging. It's encouraging to see a politician be held to account," Harder said. "It's just important to make sure that it's the right guy."