Rep. Duncan Hunter (left) and Ammar Campa-Najjar

Updated at 6:55 p.m. Aug. 8, 2018

Update: A spokesman for Rep. Duncan Hunter said Wednesday that the 50th District congressman has not yet agreed to a meeting with his opponent at Cal State San Marcos. A scheduling conflict prevents Hunter from attending a Sept. 18 forum, said Mike Harrison, his district chief of staff.

When informed of Hunter’s unavailability that day, a spokesman for Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar said: “Well, that’s news to me. …. It was odd that they would back out.” The spokesman, Nick Singer, called it “very cowardly.”

Original story:

Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter will meet his Democratic challenger Sept. 18 at Cal State San Marcos in an event being depicted as a “candidate forum” but not a debate.

This would be the first public face-off between the embattled congressman and his 50th District rival Ammar Campa-Najjar, who took second in the June primary with 17.8 percent of the vote.

Five-term incumbent Hunter, who is under federal investigation, was first with 47.3 percent in the heavily Republican district, which includes San Marcos and Escondido.

The forum will be at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 18, at the CSU San Marco Student Union at 595 Campus View Drive.

”We are looking forward to hosting both candidates for our students and voters to hear from their future congressman,” said Christine Antoine, director of the school’s Office of Government Relations and Community Engagement.

“Civic engagement and the democratic process is important for our students to learn and we are excited to be teaching them through this debate.”

In a statement, Campa-Najjar thanked the university and said: “Congressman Hunter Jr. has either been too distracted or disinterested to attend in-person Town Halls for nearly two years.”

Hunter recently held a telephonic Town Hall for residents of his mostly East County district.

“I’m confident voters will walk away having a clear contrast between us and a sense of what real representation can look like as they vote this November,” Campa-Najjar said.

The university didn’t immediately respond to queries about the format of the forum. But a spokesman for Campa-Najjar said the university initiated contacts with the campaigns and the forum would include questions from the audience.

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