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

Rep. Duncan D. Hunter‘s father sought to protect his family’s hold on the 50th Congressional District Tuesday, accusing Democratic challenger Ammar Campa-Najjar of being a “security risk.”

Duncan Lee Hunter, who represented the district for 28 years and has been followed by his son for the past 10 years, held a press conference aboard the USS Midway to denounce Camap-Najjar, holding up photos of the Democratic challenger hugging his Palestinian father in 2015.

Campa-Najjar is the son of the Mexican mother and grew up in East County. He is estranged from his father, who was a Palestinian official. Campa-Najjar is a former Obama administration official who was required to undergo FBI background checks.

Former Rep. Duncan Lee Hunter chats with former constituents at Ramona Mainstage before his son’s Town Hall in 2017.
Former Rep. Duncan Lee Hunter. Photo by Chris Stone

“While Duncan Hunter senior was once a congressman, voters understand it’s me and Duncan junior on the ballot this time — neither of our fathers are running for congress,” said Campa-Najjar. “Voters will judge us by our own merits, character, and record this election. May the better man win.”

The former congressman’s appearance in the campaign comes as polls show Campa-Najjar gaining in the wake of the indictment of Duncan D. Hunter — and his estranged wife — on charges of misusing campaign funds.

The Hunter campaign is running ads connecting Campa-Najjar with his grandfather, a terrorist who died years before the candidate was born.

Rep. Susan Davis came to Campa-Najjar’s defense on Tuesday, calling Hunter’s attacks “bigotry and fear” that “have no place in any campaign.”

“As a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee and someone who has endorsed Ammar, I condemn these baseless attacks against him. Ammar has repeatedly distanced himself from the acts of his condemned grandfather who was killed 16 years before his birth,” she said.

Davis noted that “Ammar has openly engaged with and addressed his grandfather’s past with members of the Jewish community.”

Updated at 7:35 a.m. Oct. 17, 2018

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.