Friday, May 24, 2024

Latino Arab-American hopes indictment will help him win congressional seat

Democratic congressional candidate Ammar Campa-Najjar was working on a TV advertisement to boost his exposure when news broke that his opponent, the favored Republican U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter, was indicted.

The 29-year-old former Obama administration Labor Department official whose father is a Palestinian Muslim and mother a Mexican-American Catholic has never held elected office. In Hunter, he’s taking on the Hunter family’s nearly 40-year hold on the district; Hunter’s father was elected to the seat in 1980 and held it until his son won in 2008.

With the indictment, which comes as part of a series of indictments that have taken place since the beginning of the month and along this week, Campa-Najjar suddenly found himself thrust in the spotlight. Within 24 hours, he received hundreds of emails and gave nearly two dozen interviews to local and national media outlets.

It was the attention, he said, his campaign deserved. After months of knocking on doors, Campa-Najjar is seizing the opportunity to re-introduce himself to voters in the 50th District. About a third of the district is Latino and it is also home to one of the largest Iraqi Chaldean populations in the United States.

There is no doubt a win would be an upset even with the allegations against Hunter and his wife since the couple has been charged by a federal grand jury with using more than $250,000 in campaign funds to finance family trips to Italy and Hawaii, golf outings, school tuition and theater tickets.

Voters in Hunter’s rural hometown of Alpine were sharply divided on what it all means. Some are shocked, some outraged but Campa-Najjar stands strong by his message and position; “If we are a nation of laws, then you cannot in good conscience vote for Duncan Hunter,” he said.