SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Candidates, who are looking to unseat Congressman Duncan Hunter, are feeling emboldened as his trial grows near.
This week, the Congressman’s wife took a plea deal with prosecutors, in which she has agreed to testify against her husband in the trial scheduled for Sept. 16.
Several candidates had already made plans to run in 2020 against before prosecutors flipped his wife, and they are now watching to see what unfolds in court.
Many of the candidates have begun fundraising efforts, and some say donations to their campaign have ramped up in the past few days. Many currently vying for the District 50 seat are Republicans within Hunter’s party, like El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells who ran against Hunter in 2018.
“I think my chances are now even better, I lot of people know me more,” Wells said. “A lot of people, they wanted to vote for me last time but felt conflicted about the Duncan Hunter situation.”
Temecula council member Matt Rahn, who is also eyeing Hunter’s seat, expects to gain some of his followers as the trial goes on.
“I expect to see some change in the folks that are showing interest as we see this case evolve and unfold but right now, we have a solid base,” Rahn said.
A conviction won’t remove Hunter from office. It will take a two-thirds House vote to do that. However, if he survives the trial, there's likely going to be some political fallout. That gives Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar confidence he can turn the district blue.
“I think people are going to be willing to put country over party and look past the 'D' next to my name. No one has invested more in the running of this race to represent everybody, than our campaign,” Campa-Najjar said.
10News reached out to Republican Larry Wilske. He has not responded to our request for comment.