In a surprising sharply worded endorsement, the editorial board of the conservative San Diego Union-Tribune, California’s second-largest daily newspaper by circulation, gave their approval to Ammar Campa-Najjar, the Democratic challenger to Republican incumbent Duncan Hunter, in the race for the state’s 50th congressional district.
Hunter, who is currently under indictment on charges of campaign financial fraud, ran a campaign ad that disparagingly linked his opponent’s Arab-Latino heritage to terrorist groups, despite Campa-Najjar having been thoroughly vetted to work in the Obama administration.
“Ammar Campa-Najjar is working to infiltrate Congress,” says the narrator of Hunter’s ad on YouTube. “He’s used three different names to hide his family’s ties to terrorism.”
The Tribune-Union editorial board wrote on Friday, Sept 28;
— “We endorse Campa-Najjar for Congress. He is far superior to the troubled incumbent. This fact is underlined by the despicable ad that Hunter has begun to air in recent days suggesting that his ‘Palestinian Mexican millennial’ opponent was linked to terrorist groups and was ‘working to infiltrate Congress.’
It’s well-known that Campa-Najjar’s grandfather was a terrorist who helped plan the 1972 attack on Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics.
It’s also well-known that Campa-Najjar, a Christian, has had literally nothing to do with his grandfather. As Campa-Najjar notes, when he worked at the White House, he was ‘given a security clearance by the Secret Service after a thorough background check.’ With this smear, Hunter continues to demolish his own reputation.” —
The New York Times reported that Hunter’s ad is an escalation of comments he made about his opponent earlier last week, according to local reports, when he emphasized that Campa-Najjar legally changed his name to “Joseph” from “Yasser.”
A spokesperson for Campa-Najjar’s campaign told The Times that he had been given the middle name “Yasser,” his father’s first name, in keeping with Arabic naming traditions and that he changed it to “Joseph” because he preferred it.
Polling conducted by the Monmouth University Poll last week revealed that Hunter was still retaining a lead in the race with 49% supporting Hunter compared to 41% for Campa-Najjar. According to Monmouth pollsters, 10% of voters were undecided.
The Times of San Diego noted that despite Hunter’s indictment on charges of fraudulent use of campaign funds, “he retains strong name recognition and a favorable opinion among voters in the largely rural East County district. Hunter and his father before him have represented the district in Congress for nearly four decades.”
“This is an astounding endorsement that not only lavishes praise for Democratic candidate Ammar Campa-Najjar’s thoughtfulness and empathy but absolutely lacerates the Republican incumbent for his race-baiting campaign tactics and reeking corruption. When one of the largest, most conservative newspapers in California is proudly endorsing a Democrat for Congress, it’s clear the Big Blue Wave is coming to wipe out Duncan Hunter and scores of Republicans in November,” says out Democratic Party Chair Eric Bauman.
Reporting by The New York Times, The Times of San Diego, The San Diego Union-Tribune, and the staff of the Los Angeles Blade