In­dicted re-elected con­gress­man vows ‘busi­ness-as-usual’

Porterville Recorder - - RECORD - By JULIE WAT­SON

SAN DIEGO — Cal­i­for­nia Repub­li­can Rep. Dun­can Hunter, who won re-elec­tion while fac­ing fed­eral cor­rup­tion charges, promised con­stituents Wed­nes­day it will be "busi­ness-as-usual" in his deeply red South­ern Cal­i­for­nia district, but some won­der whether that will be pos­si­ble.

Hunter beat first-time Demo­cratic can­di­date Am­mar Campa-na­j­jar by more than eight per­cent­age points in the San Diego-area district that Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump won by dou­ble dig­its in 2016.

Campa-na­j­jar, a 29-year-old for­mer Obama White House aide, said he would not con­cede un­til ev­ery vote had been counted, which could come later in the week.

The race was con­sid­ered a test of par­ti­san­ship in the Trump era and whether vot­ers would over­look the taint of sus­pi­cion to keep the five-term law­maker in his seat.

Hunter is one of the few can­di­dates in U.S. his­tory to be re-elected while in­dicted. He vowed Wed­nes­day to con­tinue his fight to re­build the mil­i­tary, for­tify the U.S. bor­der, cut taxes and pro­tect the 2nd Amend­ment.

"I in­tend to make it busi­ness-as-usual in work­ing with Pres­i­dent Trump for the next two years to achieve more suc­cess, es­pe­cially given the chal­lenge of hav­ing a Demo­crat-led House," Hunter said in a state­ment.

He is up against mount­ing chal­lenges un­like any he has faced in his 10 years in of­fice.

He and his wife are due back in court Dec. 3. A grand jury in Au­gust handed down a 60-count in­dict­ment against the cou­ple al­leg­ing they used more than $250,000 in cam­paign money for per­sonal ex­penses rang­ing from tequila shots to an Italy trip to den­tal work. They pleaded not guilty.

Robert Knapp, 59, a San­tee Repub­li­can who ser­vices trucks and buses, said he re­luc­tantly voted for Hunter, but he did not want to see Repub­li­cans lose the seat. "Per­son­ally, I would have a dif­fi­cult time fo­cus­ing," he said. "Hope­fully he has good peo­ple around him to help him stay on track."

Hunter was one of two in­dicted Repub­li­can con­gress­men run­ning for re­elec­tion. Rep. Chris Collins of New York is ac­cused of in­sider trad­ing. His race was too close to call Wed­nes­day.

Both were early sup­port­ers of Trump and called the charges ret­ri­bu­tion for his elec­tion.

Trump, how­ever, did not of­fi­cially en­dorse ei­ther can­di­date, though some say he could try to in­ter­vene to help the Repub­li­cans now that Democrats con­trol the House.

Bill Wells, the con­ser­va­tive mayor of El Ca­jon, lo­cated in Hunter's district, said there's no doubt the case will be a dis­trac­tion. "It's not a pos­i­tive thing," he said. "So the faster this gets re­solved, the bet­ter it will be for the district."

AP PHOTO BY DE­NIS POROY

Rep. Dun­can Hunter,r-calif., speaks dur­ing an in­ter­view at a call cen­ter on Tues­day Nov. 6, in San­tee, Calif.

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