SAN DIEGO — Candidates vying to replace Duncan Hunter as the representative of the 50th Congressional District had plenty to say Tuesday after the embattled congressman from Alpine pleaded guilty to conspiracy to misuse campaign funds.
“It’s not about the future of Duncan Hunter anymore,” said candidate Ammar Campa-Najjar. “It’s about the future of this district, and I think it’s time we focused on that.”
Former 49th District Rep. Darrell Issa, who announced his intention to run for Hunter’s 50th District seat earlier this year, said Hunter did the right thing by changing his plea to guilty.
“I think it’s a relief to his family and his district that has lived in uncertainty of whether he was he framed or was he guilty,” Issa told FOX 5.
All three candidates that FOX 5 contacted acknowledged the difficulty of Hunters’ decision to plead guilty but said they thought it would allow the district to move forward more quickly than having a trial.
“What you just saw inside this courthouse is truly remarkable: an American politician held accountable for his mistakes,” said candidate Carl DeMaio. “That is not seen very often in American politics, and we need more of it.”
The candidates quickly went in to campaign mode without missing a beat.
“America is in need of people who can get things done,” Issa said. “This community are big Trump supporters, and I’m a big Trump supporter.”
Ammar Campa-Najjar, the only Democrat in the race, grew up in Alpine and emphasized his local roots.
“We need someone from the district who can move things forward. It may not be sexy to you, but I live on a dirt road in my district,” Campa-Najjar said. “We need to fix our infrastructure. We need to make sure we have wildfire relief. We need to make sure we lower the cost of living with affordable housing and education and healthcare. Those are the things that I’m going to be focusing on.”
Hunter gave a brief statement after pleading guilty, but he would not say whether he is resigning from Congress.
“If Mr. Hunter resigned by next Friday, the voters in the 50th District will be able to select a new member of Congress who can get started on their behalf working for them on the issues that they care about in a matter of months,” DeMaio said.
Campa-Najjar said that he’s ready, whatever happens.
“We are not sure if Duncan Hunter is resigning, but if he is, we’re having a special election, and I am confident that we will win the special election and move on,” he said.