As Instinct reported last summer, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) has found himself under a pile of indictments for campaign finance violations. Hunter and his wife, Margaret, face “charges of misusing campaign funds to the tune of $250,000,” along with “filing false campaign finance records,” wire fraud, and more.
Hunter, who represents a “solidly Republican district” in the San Diego, California, area, won his 2018 reelection by a narrow margin of just over two percent of more than 255,000 votes cast.
Deepening Legal Woes Provide Opportunity
Just over half a year later, Rep. Duncan’s woes have only grown. His wife, Margaret, seems to have flipped under pressure from prosecutors and now is cooperating against him. As Vanity Fair’s Bess Levin reported on June 25, released court filings show the erstwhile “family values” Republican used “campaign funds to pay for drinks, dinners, and trips with women with whom he had extramarital affairs, including three lobbyists, a staffer in his congressional office, and a woman who worked for another member of the House of Representatives.”
Although Hunter denies these affairs vehemently (“a personal smear campaign,” quotes Levin), Margaret nevertheless pleaded guilty to conspiracy in the pending case and “pledged to cooperate in the case against her husband.” With Hunter’s trial set for September, the already vulnerable incumbent’s prospects in 2020 appear bleak.
In a replay of last year’s contest, a familiar face is seeking to challenge Rep. Hunter, assuming he emerges five dozen criminal charges unscathed: Ammar Campa-Najjar.
Campa-Najjar, a 30-year-old San Diegan, is “excited” to face off against Duncan in 2020, a rematch set against a backdrop of Hunter’s indiscretions and hypocritical infidelity.
Campa-Najjar still faces “an uphill battle” in what Remezcla called “one of the state’s most conservative” Congressional Districts, California’s 50th. But on his second go-around, with the benefit of improved name recognition, the second time might be the charm.
Speaking of charm, Ammar has kept his campaign announcement positively framed, instead of taking (too-easy) shots at his disgraced opponent. His current campaign website mirrors that approach, pledging to put “people over politics,” and focusing on issues resonating in the San Diego region from environmental protection to immigration.
In addition to receiving Equality California’s endorsement in 2018, Ammar has refused to view moral strength and LGBTQ support as anything but mutually reinforcing parts of his political identity. As the Los Angeles Blade reported last October, the “Latino, Arab-American millennial” Campa-Najjar unequivocally stated, “Whether you’re Latino or Middle Eastern or LGBTQ … it’s a really defining time for our country. We have to stand for our values. An assault on any one of us is an assault on all of us.”
He is also endearingly humble. After an admirer recently referred to the candidate as “a total babe and progressive,” Campa-Najjar emphasized he would “rather folks support [his] policies to invest in job training, lowering healthcare/prescription costs, and getting corporate money out of politics!”
I’m flattered, but would rather folks support my policies to invest in job training, lowering healthcare/prescription costs, and getting corporate money out of politics!
— Ammar Campa-Najjar (@ACampaNajjar) June 26, 2019
(With all due respect to Campa-Najjar, those are not mutually exclusive.)
To see his campaign ideas as they unfold day-to-day, along with throwbacks and photos of him staring contemplatively into the distance among solar panels, check out his Instagram @ammarvel. This race is one to watch.