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Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.)

U.S. Representative (since January 2009)

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Why He Matters

First sworn into the House at the young age of 32, Hunter represents a decidedly Republican district and benefits from a combination of factors that likely mean a long House tenure. He replaced his father, a 14-term congressman who retired for an unlikely presidential run and whose campaign infrastructure and legislative staff Hunter has relied on to launch his own political career.

Hunter enrolled in the U.S. Marine Corps shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks. One of only two members of Congress to have served in both Iraq and Afghanistan, he has made national security issues a priority. He now sits on the Armed Services Committee, which his father chaired during the 109th Congress.

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Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.)

U.S. Representative (since January 2009)

 
 

At a Glance

  • Career History: United States Marine Corps (2001-2007)
  • Birthday: December 7, 1976
  • Hometown: Alpine, Cali.
  • Alma Mater: B.A. from San Diego State University (2001)
  • Spouse: Margaret Hunter
  • Religion: Baptist
  • Committees: Armed Services Committee, Education and Labor Committee
 

Path to Power

Hunter was only 3 when his father was first elected to the U.S. House. After graduating from San Diego University, Hunter worked in a high-tech firm until he decided to enlist in the Marine Corps in 2001 in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. He served one tour of duty in Afghanistan and two in Iraq, where he was during the 2004 Fallujah battle."I'd help my dad out with his campaigns, but I didn't like politics," Hunter has said of his early life.

But in 2007, when the elder Hunter announced he would give up his powerful House perch to launch a quixotic presidential campaign, his son decided to try and replace him. "It was in Iraq when I kind of decided then I'd like to keep serving [my country] in a different capacity after my tour was up," he explained. Since Hunter was called back to active duty shortly after announcing his campaign, his wife Margaret campaigned on his behalf for much of 2007.

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The Issues

Hunter, who has described himself as "part of the conservative wing of the Republican Party," has made immigration and national security his priorities.

National Security

Hunter sits on the Armed Services Committee formerly chaired by his dad, and from that perch argues for maintaining defense spending. This has led him to criticize the Obama administration for considering cuts to programs like a missile-defense system. Hunter's view that a vigorous defense industry can help the economy and provide jobs has led him to defend the earmarking process in the context of the development of national security infrastructure.

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The Network

Hunter has ties to longtime Republican congressmen who were close to his father and have known him since he was a child. For instance, Rep. David Dreier (R-Calif.) described interacting with a 4-year old Hunter at his own swearing-in back in 1981.

One of Hunter's closest congressional allies has been Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-Calif.), who knew the elder Duncan since the late 1970s. Bilbray, who also represents the San Diego region, has been Hunter's partner on immigration issues; he co-sponsored Hunter's bill authorizing additional fence construction and joined him in writing to Secretary Napolitano to urge her to build a fence at Bunker Hill.

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Additional Resources

  1. Berestein, Leslie, "Border bunker battle," The San Diego Union-Tribune, August 25, 2009
  2. "Hunter's Son to run for dad's seat," The Washington Times, April 9, 2007
  3. Carter, Sara and Lake, Eli, "U.S. bases eyed for alternative to Gitmo," The Washington Times, January 14, 2009
  4. Liewer, Steve, "A matter of honor; Is Pentagon too stingy with top combat award?" The San Diego Union-Tribune, September 27, 2009
  5. Martinez, Laura, "Unlawful Border Entry Prevention Act calls for 350 more miles of barriers," The Brownsville Herald, July 23, 2009
  6. Sifuentes, Edward, "Rep. Hunter introduces border bill," North County Times, April 23, 2009
  7. Press release, "Hunter Amends Health Care Legislation to Benefit Small Business," July 17, 2009
  8. Sifuentes, Edward, "Rep. Hunter introduces border bill," The North County Times, April 23, 2009
  9. Schreck Adam, "Son of Rep. Hunter may run to succeed him," Los Angeles Times, March 22, 2007
  10. Walker, Mark, "Hunter follows Bilbray with earmark request for Predator," North County Times, April 8, 2009
  11. Roll call vote
  12. Roll call vote
  13. Michele Clock and John Marelius and Agust Armendariz, "Father's embrace of earmarks beneficial to candidate Hunter," The San Diego Union-Tribune, May 29, 2008 and Cela, Matthew, "Duncan Hunter's earmarks benefit his son," The Washington Times, October 13, 2008
  14. Clock, Michele, "Hunter's rivals work to stand out," The San Diego Union-Tribune, May 11, 2008
  15. "Hunter Amends Health Care Legislation to Benefit Small Business," Press release, July 17, 2009
  16. Perry, Terry, "Duncan D. Hunter wants to keep House seat in the family," Los Angeles Times, June 2, 2008
  17. Marelius, John, "Name's the same, so are the views," The Union-Tribune, August 25, 2009
  18. Sifuentes, Edward, "Maintaining defense spending top priority," North County Times, May 30, 2009
  19. Drucker, David, "Hunter's Son May Not Scare Off Others," Roll Call, April 19, 2007
  20. Marelius, John, "Rivals in 52nd District debate Prop. 8, taxes, Iraq war," The San Diego Union-Tribune, October 29, 2008
  21. "Name's the same, so are the views; Rep. Duncan Hunter doesn't seem to stray far from father's path," The San Diego Union-Tribune, August 25, 2009
  22. "Rep. Hunter: Repealing 'Don't Ask' Will Hurt Military," NPR, February 2, 2010
  23. Emily Heil and Elizabeth Brotherton, "Heard on the Hill," Roll Call, January 7, 2009
  24. Roll call vote
  25. Clock, Michele, "Candidates for Hunter's seat face off," The San Diego Union-Tribune, March 11, 2008 and Walker, Mark, "Hunter follows Bilbray with earmark request for Predator," North County Times, April 8, 2009