Word traveled fast through the 50th District that Congressman Duncan Hunter pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to misuse campaign funds after denying the charges for months.
“I feel bad for the people who did vote for him because they were duped,” constituent Tina Brady said.
Hunter said outside the Federal Courthouse in San Diego he made the plea to spare his wife and children from the ordeal of a public trial.
“I made mistakes and that's what today was all about,” he said.
Prosecutors say the Hunter and his wife misused $150,000 of donor money from 2010 to 2016.
Marvin Brehan, a long-time East County resident who voted for Hunter, said he things the Congressman should get jail time.
“You know, you do the crime you do the time. I think he should resign immediately,” Brehan said.
There are plenty of candidates ready to fill Hunter’s seat in the 50th District, which has consistently voted Republican for decades.
Rep. Hunter has been in Congress since 2008, and his father, Duncan L. Hunter, served the 45th District from 1983 to 1993 and the 52nd District from 1993 to 2009.
David Chong owns a gun store in an East County community known for its conservative values.
He doesn’t think the district is ready to flip, but he foresees a competitive primary.
“I believe that there will still be a conservative elected in this district, but yeah, it is competitive,” Chong told NBC 7.
However, Chong's concerns regarding Hunter reach beyond politics.
“I am specifically sympathetic to his family, to his children most of all -- and to his wife,” Chong said. As a one-time holder of public office, Chong views Hunter’s situation as the justice system at work.
The demographics in the 50th District are changing, and the community is growing and becoming more diverse. That shift is making room for something new, according to voter Nancy Lamott.
“I would like to see the Democrat candidate win out here. [Campa-Najjar], I think he's very good. He was raised out here, I think he's outstanding,” Lamott said.
What Lamott is looking for most is a candidate who is “honest.”