By Ken Stone
But Campa-Najjar won’t gloat.
In a 325-word “Farewell Letter to Duncan Hunter,” the 29-year-old Democrat said in a statement released Monday: “In all honesty, Duncan, I sincerely wish you well in life. After tomorrow, you’ll be relieved of your duties as congressman.”
And referring to the federal corruption charges against Hunter and his wife, Campa-Najjar added: “It gives me no pleasure knowing that you’ll likely face time in prison for what you’ve done.”
Asked for comment, Hunter spokesman Michael Harrison had only a curt response: “Amateur hour.”
(Harrison, Hunter’s local chief of staff, used his personal email to comment, instead of his “mail.house.gov” address, to avoid an ethics violation of using government resources during a campaign.)
Unless he resigns or is removed by House colleagues, Alpine resident Hunter would remain in office until the end of the 115th Congress if he loses Tuesday.
The 116th two-year Congress is set to begin Jan. 3, 2019 — exactly a month after a Dec. 3 hearing in the Hunters’ campaign finance violation case in San Diego federal court.
The Democrat’s campaign didn’t immediately respond to questions about its suggestion Hunter would exit early.
Is Campa-Najjar being smart — doing a victory dance before ballots are cast?
Longtime local politics observer Carl Luna says the letter, at best, may result in a few more Democrats coming out to vote. But a potential downside exists.
“At worst, it might cause some Democrats to figure it’s in the bag and decide not to vote,” said Luna, a San Diego Mesa College political science professor. “At worst worst, it might motivate more Republicans to vote.”
On the whole, he said, the letter — also posted on social media and intended to grab free media attention — probably won’t move the needle much in any direction, but “better to appear confident than self-doubting 24 hours away from the election.”
Is the letter’s pitying tone a good or bad thing?
“There’s a fine line between ‘pity’ and ‘snarky,'” Luna said via email. “The letter tries for the former but critics may read into it the later.
“The letter might have made better post-victory copy, particularly if Hunter wins. Meanwhile Campa-Najar can take heart in the fact he’s gotten closer as a Democrat to the brass ring in that district than any Democrat for decades.”
The latest poll on the race — ending Oct. 29 by KGTV-TV and SurveyUSA — found Hunter leading Campa-Najjar by 3 percentage points in the heavily Republican district of East County and southwest Riverside County.
But the margin of error was 4.8 percent, meaning the five-term Republican could win by 7.8 points or lose by nearly 2.
Here is the text of the Campa-Najjar letter:
Dear Congressman Hunter,
When I first decided to run 21 months ago, I was looking forward to having a respectful but robust debate with you. I’ve attended 20 town halls and 5 debates. You’ve attended 0. If you have nothing to hide, you’ll show up and debate me today.
None of us choose our family, all of us choose our congressman. Instead of being your own man, you had your father confront me at a press conference. Neither of our fathers are running for Congress. For this reason and so many others, I believe you are unfit to serve.
In all honesty, Duncan, I sincerely wish you well in life. After tomorrow, you’ll be relieved of your duties as congressman. It gives me no pleasure knowing that you’ll likely face time in prison for what you’ve done. Quite frankly, it saddens me. But the law is the law. I will not be rejoicing over your court hearing on Dec. 3, and anyone who celebrates a guilty verdict will be met with condemnation by me. Let justice run its course.
While we were adversaries, I am my brother’s keeper. I hope and pray that one day you’ll continue to serve as a private citizen and find meaning and healing in the process. As your next congressman, I promise to be there for you if you need me.
As a Marine, you fought the battles we wage abroad so someone like me can have the luxury to fight the ones we have at home, of which there are many — from income inequality to healthcare. I promise to continue to fight with the same courage you once had.
While I strongly disagree with your record and conduct as a congressman, I live under the shade of freedom you and many others in uniform fought for. And for that I will always be grateful. #CountryOverParty
Your fellow countryman — in my heart if not in yours.
Updated at 1:25 p.m. Nov. 5, 2018
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