With the indictment of U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter, Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjaris likely to go from being a long-shot candidate to possibly upsetting the California Republican this November in what is a heavily conservative congressional district.
Campa-Najjar, 28, a practicing Christian born to a Palestinian father and a Mexican mother, has distanced himself from his grandfather, Muhammad Youssef al-Najjar, who was involved in the planning of the 1972 Munich massacre that killed 11 Israeli athletes. Al-Najjar was assassinated by Israeli commandos as part of Operation Wrath of God in Beirut in 1973.
“As an American citizen living in the 21st century, I will never be able to understand or condone the actions and motivations of my grandfather,” he told Haaretz in February before telling local outlets that these remarks would not be utilized for political gain.
“Like many American families, my heritage bears a heartbreaking history,” he added. “To achieve peace, Palestinians and Israelis will have to make the same personal choice I’ve had to make: leave the dark past behind so that the future shines brighter in the eyes of our children.”
Campa-Najjar is running as a progressive in California’s 50th district which the nonpartisan Cook Political Report shifted from “Solid Republican” to “Lean Republican.”
Along with his wife, Hunter pleaded not guilty to illegally using $250,000 in campaign funds for personal use and filing false reports with the Federal Election Commission.
As of June 30, Campa-Najjar raised more than $1 million but spent much of it, according to federal records. Campa-Najjar’s campaign reported $280,000 in the bank, with $25,000 in debt, while Hunter reported raising $850,000 but had a surplus of $350,000 by the end of June.
Whether the Democratic Party will allocate significant money into a race they deem as not winnable, compared to other districts consisting of vulnerable Republican incumbents, remains to be seen. U.S. President Donald Trump won Hunter’s district by 15 points, despite losing statewide by more than 4 million votes in 2016.