GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter being sworn into Congress, alongside his wife.
GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter being sworn into Congress, alongside his wife.

In summary

Conservative voters in one of California’s most Trump-loving districts face a tough choice: vote for a single-payer boosting, cap-and-trade supporting, Obama-backed 29-year-old who happens to be the grandson of a Palestinian terrorist organizer—or go with the guy who, as of today, is literally under federal indictment.

Conservative voters in one of California’s most Trump-loving districts have a tough choice ahead of them: Vote for a single-payer boosting, cap-and-trade supporting, Obama-backed 29-year-old who happens to be the grandson of a Palestinian terrorist organizer—or go with the guy who, as of today, is literally under federal indictment.

This afternoon, a grand jury indicted Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter of Alpine and his wife, Margaret, on a litany of campaign finance violations. According to the 48-page report, the couple spent $250,000 of campaign contributions on theater tickets, school tuition, video games, dental procedures, and national and international vacations for both immediate and extended family, including a well-traveled rabbit.

Among the more memorable items outlined in the indictment:

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Excerpt from indictment of GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter

Hunter’s legal troubles are hardly news (his office was raided by federal investigators last year), but the charges are poorly timed for the Republican Party. Democrats need to flip at least 23 congressional seats this November in order to take back control of the House of the Representatives. While some of the most competitive districts are in California, Hunter’s district wouldn’t seem to be one of them at first glance. Registered Republicans outnumber Democrats by a higher margin than any other California district and local voters chose Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton 2016 by a 15 percentage point margin.

But even in this era of rank political tribalism and partisanship, federal felony charges may just be enough to change some voters’ minds.

Maybe.

“Today’s indictment confirms just how deep this corruption can reach when someone like (Hunter) is in it for himself instead of representing the people.” said his Democratic challenger, Ammar Campa-Najjar. Najjar has renounced the grandfather he never met and has called for peace in the Middle East. He is among the former Obama administration employees who have received President Obama’s endorsement, and his lead campaign strategist is national veteran operative Joe Trippi.

State GOP leaders stressed Hunter was innocent until proven guilty, and his defenders on Fox News and Twitter, including his father, rushed to label the indictment “politically motivated” because of the congressman’s support for President Trump.

Voters who favor neither Hunter nor Campa-Najjar are out of luck. California law does not allow voters to write in alternative candidates. It is too late for any candidate to drop out.

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Ben Christopher

Ben covers California politics and elections. Prior to that, he was a contributing writer for CalMatters reporting on the state's economy and budget. Based out of the San Francisco Bay Area, he has written...