Sam Abed at a campaign appearance in 2016. Photo by Ken Stone

Republican Sam Abed, the former mayor of Escondido, will challenge embattled Rep. Duncan Hunter in the March primary for the 50th Congressional seat in East County.

Abed’s announcement on Wednesday afternoon adds to the pressure on Hunter, who is under indictment for alleged misuse of campaign funds. His estranged wife has already pleaded guilty and may testify against him.

“I am busy talking with grassroots, civic and community leaders and my supporters, and I am grateful for the strong support I have already received for my campaign for the 50th Congressional district,” said Abed.

Abed served as mayor of Escondido from 2010 to 2018, when he lost to Paul “Mac” McNamara in a close election. He ran unsuccessfully for county supervisor in 2016.

He is known as a vocal opponent of undocumented immigration, emphasizing his status as a legal immigrant from Lebanon. He has appeared with President Trump at the White House to oppose sanctuary cities.

Abed faces Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar, who narrowly lost to Hunter in 2018, and Republicans Bill Wells, the mayor of El Cajon, Temecula Mayor Matt Rahn and retired Navy SEAL Scott Wilske. Retired Congressman Darrell Issa has also been mentioned as a potential challenger.

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Chris Jennewein

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