California governor declines to call a special election to replace Duncan Hunter

Gavin Newsom’s decision means 50th District seat will remain vacant until 2021

California Rep. Duncan Hunter is resigning Jan. 13 and his seat will remain vacant until 2021. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday he would not call a special election to replace Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter, who is resigning next week after pleading guilty to misusing campaign funds.

“The governor’s office received Rep. Hunter’s resignation letter. Based on the timing of the resignation, a special election will not be called,” Newsom spokeswoman Vicky Waters said.

With Hunter resigning after the candidate filing deadline had passed, Newsom had to decide whether to call a special election for his 50th District seat, according to a spokesperson for the California secretary of state.

His decision Wednesday means the seat will remain vacant until 2021.

Hunter pleaded guilty in federal court on Dec. 3 to using hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign funds for his own enrichment. Hunter and his wife, Margaret, who pleaded guilty in June, illegally converted over $150,000 in campaign funds from 2010 through 2016 to buy goods and services for their own interests, according to the plea agreement. Hunter’s sentencing is scheduled for March 17, and he faces between eight and 14 months in jail. 

Several Republicans and Democrats were already running in the jungle primary for the 50th District, even before Hunter announced his resignation. They include former GOP Rep. Darrell Issa, who represented the neighboring 49th District for nine terms, Republican Carl DeMaio, a former San Diego City Council member, and 2018 Democratic nominee Ammar Campa-Najjar.

Chris Marquette contributed to this report.

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