Ammar Campa-Najjar speaks to the media and protesters outside the federal courthouse after Duncan Hunter arraignment in 2018. Photo by Chris Stone

Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar, who came close to beating Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter in 2018, called Monday for his disgraced former opponent to resign immediately.

“Speaking as his constituent, I’m calling on Congressman Hunter to resign now,” said Campa-Najjar. “It’s dishonorable to ask hardworking taxpayers to pay your salary after pleading guilty, being stripped of voting privileges, and being banned from fulfilling the duties of a congressman.”

After pleading guilty in December to federal campaign finance fraud, Hunter pledged to resign “shortly after the holidays.” He was then barred from voting in the House of Representatives.

If Hunter does resign, it’s unclear whether Gov. Gavin Newsom will call a special election, since the primary is less than two months away. Campa-Najjar suggested that an immediate resignation would allow voters in the 50th District to elect a new member of Congress.

Campa-Najjar is considered the front-runner, but a number of well-known Republicans have jumped into the race, including former Rep. Darrell Issa, former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio and state Sen. Brian Jones.

The DeMaio campaign called for Hunter’s resignation on Dec. 6. “Why did it take Ammar Campa-Najjar a full month to call for Hunter’s resignation?” a campaign spokesman said. “Carl DeMaio called for Hunter to resign the moment Hunter pled guilty.”

Campa-Najjar said his campaign is proceeding “full speed ahead and ready to take our working class, commonsense, country-over-party message to Congress.” He noted that unlike Issa and DeMario, he lives in the district.

The 50th District includes much of San Diego County east of Interstate 15 and north of Interstate 8 as well as a part of Riverside County.

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