The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Duncan Hunter returns to the spotlight with one of the most vile political ads this year

Rep. Duncan D. Hunter (R-Calif.) walks past a protester in San Diego holding a sign for Democratic candidate Ammar Campa-Najjar. (MIKE BLAKE/Reuters)

THE ABILITY of Rep. Duncan D. Hunter (R-Calif.) to go low was pretty well demonstrated in August when he and his wife were indicted on federal charges of using campaign funds for personal expenses. There was no thought of stepping aside; only blame — to Democrats (for a “witch-hunt”) and his wife (“whatever she did, that’ll be looked at, too, I’m sure, but I didn’t do it.”). Yet even Mr. Hunter has managed to astonish with what may be the most vile political ad of this year’s midterm elections.

The controversial ad by Mr. Hunter attacks his Democratic challenger for his Palestinian heritage and goes so far as to warn that Ammar Campa-Najjar has terrorist ties and is seeking to “infiltrate” Congress. The ad’s claims have been thoroughly discredited, earning a four Pinocchios rating from The Post’s Fact Checker, which concludes the Hunter campaign ignored or distorted basic biographical facts about Mr. Campa-Najjar.

The first-time candidate is a 29-year-old Palestinian Mexican American, born and raised in San Diego, who worked in the Barack Obama administration, including a stint in the White House reviewing letters sent to the president. His jobs required him to pass FBI background checks (something the Fact Checker noted Mr. Hunter would be unable to do because of his indictment). Contrary to the ad’s innuendo, Mr. Campa-Najjar is Christian, not that it should matter.

The only danger posed by Mr. Campa-Najjar is to Mr. Hunter’s reelection chances. While Mr. Hunter is still favored to retain the seat previously held for 30 years by his father in a heavily Republican and Trump-friendly district, the race is tightening. Hence Mr. Hunter’s resorting in the closing weeks to bigotry.

Voters in his district already have many reasons to question whether Mr. Hunter is the best person to represent them in Washington, maybe starting with the campaign funds he is alleged to have spent on Italian vacations and airfare for his pet bunny. This disgraceful ad is but one more.

Read more:

Amber Phillips: 10 of the ickiest allegations in the Duncan Hunter indictment

Salvador Rizzo: Indicted congressman falsely ties opponent to terrorism

The Post’s View: Duncan Hunter’s appalling greed and grubbiness