Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter won his dark-red southern California district Tuesday, even as he stares down a federal indictment for misusing some $250,000 in campaign funds.
Hunter defeated opponent Ammar Campa-Najjar, according to NBC News and CNN.
The race for California’s 50th Congressional District was ugly and hard-fought. Hunter blamed his legal problems on his wife and attacked Campa-Najjar, a Christian of Mexican-Palestinian descent, as a “Muslim radical” who posed a “national security risk.”
The attack ads and mailers centered on Campa-Najjar’s late grandfather’s involvement with a Palestinian political party linked to the deadly terrorist attack on Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympic Games.
Campa-Najjar, a former Obama administration staffer, criticized Hunter’s “bigoted” messaging. His campaign also emphasized that Hunter would no longer be able to pass an FBI background check because of his indictment, and was stripped of his House committee posts as a result.
Yet Hunter banked largely on the demographics of his San Diego-area district, which went for Trump by 15 points in 2016. Hunter was one of the first congressmen to back his presidential bid.
On the campaign trial, he mostly avoided talk of his upcoming trial except to claim he’d been unfairly targeted by anti-Trump holdovers at the Justice Department.
Hunter has pleaded not guilty and is next due in court on Dec. 3.