By Miriam Raftery
March 4, 2018 (San Diego’s East County) – Congressman Duncan D. Hunter (R-Alpine) has received endorsement of the California Republican party. The GOP chose the incumbent Hunter over Republican challengers including El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells, Sheriff’s sergeant Andrew Zelt, and businessman Shamus Sayed.
Hunter spokesman Mike Harrison said of the endorsement, “It’s a reflection of the hard work the Congressman is doing, not only for the district, but also country.” Harrison added that Hunter was appreciative of the endorsement, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
Hunter won the state party endorsement despite controversies including a federal criminal investigation into allegations that campaign funds were used for lavish personal expenditures including family vacations, oral surgery bills, and airfare for his son’s pet rabbit. Hunter has denied wrongdoing but repaid some $60,000 to his campaign.
Other issues dogging the Hunter campaign include difficulties raising funds; in the last three months of 2017 only one donor from within the district gave money to his campaign and funding overall lagged substantially behind prior years. Hunter has held the office since 2008, following in the footsteps of his father, Duncan Hunter Sr. Hunter Jr. has also had his personal life making headlines after a Politico article raised concerns by staffers and other Republican legislators over alleged womanizing and heavy drinking, all allegations the Congressman has denied.
The top two-vote getters in the June primary, regardless of party, will advance to a run-off in November. In addition to facing several Republican challengers, Hunter will also square off against at least two well-funded Democrats in the June primary: Ammar Campa-Najjar, a former Labor Department official who received the Democratic state party endorsement, and Josh Butner, a retired Navy Seal and elected member of the Jamul-Dulzura Union School Board.
The California Republican Party acted on the recommendations of San Diego and Riverside County Republican parties, which both endorsed Hunter for the 50th Congressional district that spans portions of both counties. The endorsement was approved by the state party’s executive board in Sacramento last week.
The state GOP is expected to issue endorsements in other races at its statewide convention in late March.