The grandson of a Palestinian terrorist mastermind, a former Pentagon official hoping to become the first Muslim Republican in Congress and a Jewish environmental attorney were among the winners of Tuesday’s California primaries, and will now run for Congress in the November midterms.
Aspiring politician Ammar Campa-Najjar became the Democratic candidate for Congress in California’s 50th District, where he will face off against incumbent Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter.
Campa-Najjar is the grandson of Muhammad Yusuf al-Najjar (aka Abu Yusuf), one of the leaders of the Palestinian terror group Black September. He never met his grandfather, who was killed by Israeli commando forces more than a decade before Campa-Najjar was born. Israel killed him in retribution for his role in planning and executing the 1972 Munich terror attack, in which 11 Israeli Olympic athletes were murdered.
Campa-Najjar’s father immigrated to the United States in the 1980s, where he met the congressional candidate’s mother, an American citizen of Mexican origin. Campa-Najjar grew up in California, but also spent a number of years as a child in Gaza. He denounced his grandfather in an interview with Haaretz earlier this year, and said he rejects any use of violence.
Campa-Najjar has spoken before representatives of the Jewish community in his district and promised to try to promote peace between Israel and the Palestinians if he makes it to Congress.
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If he does get elected, he would become the first American member of Congress who is of Palestinian origin. He also told Haaretz he was inspired to run for Congress by the 2016 presidential campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vermont), whom Campa-Najjar considers a “hero.”
Because of California’s unique election system, in which all congressional candidates compete in one open primary and the two candidates receiving the most votes face-off in the general election, Campa-Najjar’s second-place finish means he will represent his party against Hunter in November.
In another congressional race in the San Diego area, Omar Qudrat became the official Republican candidate in California’s 52nd District. Qudrat will take on incumbent Democratic Congressman Scott Peters. Qudrat, a former Department of Defense prosecutor, would become the Republican Party’s first-ever Muslim congressman if he manages to defeat Peters.
Qudrat told Haaretz earlier this year his candidacy will make him a target for both white supremacists and Islamist extremists. He added that he views Israel as “a strong American ally” and “a country that shares many common enemies with us, and is part of the broader fight between the forces of humanity and the forces of hate and extremism. We need to work together.”
The Cook Political Report, which ranks congressional races across the United States, considers Hunter’s seat “likely Republican” and Peters’ seat “solid Democrat.”
In California’s Senate race, veteran Jewish Sen. Dianne Feinstein easily won renomination and will face off against another Democrat, Kevin De León, who is currently president of the California State Senate. In the open primary race, De León received more votes than any Republican candidate, thus creating a general election competition between two Democrats, with Republicans “locked out.”
Patrick Little, an openly anti-Semitic candidate running as a Republican, finished a distant 12th in California’s U.S. Senate primary.
Little, who preaches making the United States “free of Jews,” gathered some 1.2 percent of the vote, the Forward reported.
Little had a strong showing in pre-election polls, leading to fears he might be the one to face off with Feinstein – even though he had been roundly condemned by the Republican Party.
Democrats in California were concerned about being “locked out” of a House race in the state’s 49th District, where the incumbent Republican congressman, Darrell Issa, is retiring this year.
The Democrats had a number of candidates in the primary, sparking concerns that their votes would be split, thus allowing two Republican candidates to receive the most votes. However, the initial results ensured a partisan race between Republican Diane Harkey and Democrat Mike Levin, a Jewish-American attorney.