Duncan Hunter, Facing a Federal Indictment, Wins Reelection Bid

A young Democrat loses in one of California’s reddest districts.

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) walks out of the San Diego Federal Courthouse after an arraignment hearing on Thursday, August 23, 2018. Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

Rep. Duncan Hunter, Jr. (R-Calif.), a five-term incumbent facing a 60-count federal indictment for a laundry list of campaign finance violations, has held onto his Southern California seat with 54 percent of the vote. His opponent, Ammar Campa-Najjar, a 29-year-old Palestinian/Mexican-American businessman, had received 46 percent of the vote at the time networks called the race.

For almost 40 years, a Hunter—first Duncan Sr., then Duncan Jr.—has won every election and reelection bid in California’s 50th District by as much as 30 points, easily besting Democratic opponents by tapping into one of the state’s most reliably conservative voting blocks. In 2016, President Trump bested Hillary Clinton by 15 points, and Hunter was reelected by a margin of 27 percentage points. But this year was different. After Hunter and his wife were charged with stealing more than $250,000 in campaign funds for their personal use in August, he started dropping in the polls.

Launched into the national spotlight, Campa-Najjar steadily gained support, even as Hunter’s campaign launched a series of attacks and ads suggesting that he was a “radical” Muslim trying to “infiltrate” Congress. (Campa-Najjar is Christian.) The move alienated some lifelong Republicans, like Nancy Clancey, an 87-year-old San Marcos resident who told me last week that she had voted for the Hunters since 1980. “I’ve been a Republican all my life,” she said. But after reading about Hunter’s indictment, and then being impressed by Campa-Najjar, she said, “I decided this is the time I’m going independent,” she says. “I’m not going to be forced to vote for people I don’t believe in.”

But “leaners” like Clancey weren’t enough for Campa-Najjar to clear the overwhelming Republican voter advantage in the 50th. Hunter is due back in federal court on December 3.


Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2019 demands.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.


We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.