Election day in California for two Arab congressional candidates

Election day in California for two Arab congressional candidates
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Election day in California for two Arab congressional candidates

Two Arab Americans are vying for nominations for Congress today in California, Sam Jammal in the 39th Congressional District and Palestinian American Ammar Campa-Najjar, who is running for Congress in the 50th District which includes San Diego. Congressman Darrell Issa, whose father is Maronite Lebanese, announced he will retire after representing the 49th district since winning in November 2002.

UPDATE (Wednesday June 6, 2018): Ammar Campa-Najjar appears headed to represent the Democratic Party in November in the 50th California District while Sam Jammal has fallen short of the vote in the 39th District.

Unofficial returns show Sam Jammal trailing in this contest, a “Top Two” Open primary election , meaning Republicans and Democrats run in the same race together and the top two contenders will face-off in November. Here’s the unofficial tally for the 39th District:

Republican Young Kim: 17,129

Democrat Gil Cisneros: 13,604

Republican Phil Liberatore: 10,157

Democrat Andy Thorburn: 6,535

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Republican Shawn Nelson: 5,429

Republican Bob Huff: 4,543

Democrat Sam Jammal: 3,990

Democrat Mai Khanh-Tran: 3,576 end

But in the 50th District, Ammar Campa-Najjar appears to be in position to represent the Democratic Party in the November election with Republican Duncan Hunter holding a strong lead.

Republican Duncan Hunter    42,694

Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar    14,262

Republican Bill Wells 11,491

Democrat Josh Butner   11,210

Democrat Patrick Malloy  5,221

Republican S. Sayed   1,813

Independent Richard Kahle 967

In California’s system the top two candidates with the highest votes in the primary will face-off in the November election. That means candidates from the same party could face-off.

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Two Arab Americans will face voters today in California’s 39th and 50th Congressional Districts in a bid to help maintain a strong Arab American presence in the overwhelmingly anti-Arab U.S. Congress.

They are Sam Jammal in the 39th Congressional District and Palestinian American Ammar Campa-Najjar, who is running for Congress in the 50th District which includes San Diego.

Longtime Arab American Congressman Darrell Issa, whose father is Maronite Lebanese, announced he will retire after representing the 49th district since winning in November 2002. There are only a few Arab American members serving in the U.S. Congress but keeping that balance stable could be a challenge.

Three Arab American congressmen have left or retired from office leaving four incumbents. Six more are running in five districts, including one race where two Arab Americans could face off representing both the Republican and Democratic parties. But the whisper of the Arab voice in Congress could disappear if not enough effort is made to help them

Sam Jammal, candidate for Congress in the 39th District in California. Photo courtesy of Sam Jammal Campaign

Sam Jammal, candidate for Congress in the 39th District in California. Photo courtesy of Sam Jammal Campaign

Sam Jammal, a longtime Democrat faces a tough contest in the predominantly Republican 39thDistrict just southeast of Los Angeles. But he has a shot as the Republican incumbent, Ed Royce, who represented the district since 1993, is retiring.

Jammal has close ties to President Barack Obama, having worked on his campaign. During the Obama administration he served as a Legislative Counsel in the U.S. Senate where he focused on civil rights, labor and national security issues. Jammal was later appointed by Obama to serve at the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Much attention has been focused recently on the Democratic candidacy of Palestinian American Ammar Campa-Najjar, who is running for Congress in the 50th District which includes San Diego.

Campa-Najjar is the grandson of Muhammad Yusuf al-Najjar (aka Abu Yusuf) who as a senior member of Black September directed the 1972 Munich Olympic assault which took the lives of 11 Israeli athletes.

Although there never was a trial, Israel’s Mossad murdered Yusuf al-Najjar and his wife during a terrorist assault in Beirut. Campa-Najjar’s father, Yasser Najjar, was orphaned and eventually fled to the United States where Ammar Campa-Najjar was raised.

Campa-Najjar has not shied away from the issue, which was raised by the Israeli media last week, declaring he supports peace based on compromise. In response to question about his grandfather’s role in the Olympic attacks, Ammar Campa-Najja said, “There is never a justification for killing innocent civilians.”

Campa-Najjar faces two other Democrats, including a former Navy Seal, in the heavily Republican District that has been represented for many years by incumbent Congressman Duncan D. Hunter. Hunter, the son of the former congressman representing the district, is vulnerable, though. He has been accused of campaign fund irregularities.

Sam Jammal campaign in June 2018 in California's 39th Congressional District primary election June 5, 2018

Sam Jammal campaign in June 2018 in California’s 39th Congressional District primary election June 5, 2018

Jammal released this Get Out the Vote Message on Monday night before primary election day today:

Tomorrow is election day and the culmination of our primary campaign, which is just the first step to flipping California’s 39th Congressional District. Since I announced last July, my campaign for Congress has been rooted in improving our community and country.

My campaign was never just about Donald Trump, nor was it just about Ed Royce. While both need to go and have deeply divided our nation, I entered this race so we can have new leadership that reflects our community and will fight for us. Having grown up in this richly diverse community, I know we have more in common than what divides us. My mother immigrated from South America and my father immigrated from the Middle East with little but they were able to pursue the American Dream, working hard and sacrificing so that my siblings and I could have better opportunities. Their effort and life lessons gave me a chance to go to college and law school, work in the Obama Administration, and help create jobs in the emerging solar economy with SolarCity and Tesla.

I believe in an America where everyone should have the opportunity to maximize their potential. I believe in an America where the next generation is given the educational foundation to help make our country better. That’s the welcoming and inclusive America I know and believe we still are.

But, the opportunity to get ahead is slipping away for too many of us. Families are being crippled by out-of-pocket health care costs. Seniors are being squeezed by higher costs of living. And millennials face years of student debt and a still challenging job market. This is on top of a gun violence epidemic that threatens our safety.

Instead of dividing our communities by scapegoating immigrants for the challenges we face, our leaders should be focused on those pocketbook issues that give hope — owning a home where you grew up, starting a small business, not living in fear of losing health care and being able to receive the best education in the world that prepares you for the jobs of the future.

We need more than words and promises – we need results. As the only Democrat with experience in Congress and the Obama Administration and the only Democrat who grew up in our community, I am ready on day one to be our community’s advocate.

If you can help out in our final push tomorrow sign up here to volunteer and make a donation here.

Thank you for your support, encouragement and friendship through this primary campaign.

— Sam

Follow Sam On Social Media:

@samjammal on Twitter

@sam.jammal on Instagram

@Sam4Congress on Facebook

Campa-Najjar is also working hard to get out the vote and his campaign signs are popping up all over the 50th Congressional District in California.

Ammar Campa-Najjar election signs in 50th Congressional District California

Ammar Campa-Najjar election signs in 50th Congressional District California

Check out his Facebook Page and show support at: www.facebook.com/Najjar1989

Ammar Campa-Najjar for Congress June 2018 50th District California

Ammar Campa-Najjar for Congress June 2018 50th District California

For an overview of the Arab American candidates running for congressional offices this year, click this link to read this story.

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