Military Wiki
Duncan Hunter
Chairman of the House Committee on Armed Services

In office
January 4, 2003 – January 4, 2007
Preceded by Bob Stump
Succeeded by Ike Skelton
Member of the United States House of Representatives
In office
January 3, 1993 – January 3, 2009
Preceded by New district
Succeeded by Duncan D. Hunter
Member of the United States House of Representatives
In office
January 3, 1983 – January 3, 1993
Preceded by New district
Succeeded by Dana Rohrabacher
Member of the United States House of Representatives
In office
January 3, 1981 – January 3, 1983
Preceded by Lionel Van Deerlin
Succeeded by Daniel E. Lungren
Personal details
Born Duncan Lee Hunter
May 31, 1948(1948-05-31) (age 73)
Riverside, California
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Lynne Hunter
Children Duncan D. Hunter
Samuel Hunter
Residence Alpine, California
Alma mater Western State University College of Law San Diego
Occupation Attorney
Religion Southern Baptist
Military service
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1969-1971
Rank First Lieutenant
Unit Rangers (75th Ranger Regiment)
Battles/wars Vietnam War
Awards Bronze Star
Air Medal
Vietnam Service Medal

Duncan Lee Hunter (born May 31, 1948) is an American politician. He was a Republican member of the House of Representatives from California's 52nd, 45th and 42nd districts from 1981 to 2009.

Hunter was the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee during the 108th and 109th Congress. Hunter sought the Republican Party nomination for President of the United States for 2008,[1] but his campaign failed to attract significant voters or delegates in early primary and caucus states,[2] and he dropped out after the Nevada Republican caucuses.[3]

He was succeeded as Representative for the 52nd district by his son, Duncan D. Hunter.

Early life, education, military service, and family[]

Hunter was born in Riverside, California to Lola L. (née Young) and Robert Olin Hunter.[4] He graduated from Rubidoux High School in Riverside in 1966.[5] He attended the University of Montana from 1966 to 1967,[6] and then briefly the University of California, Santa Barbara,[6] before being commissioned into the United States Army in 1969.[7]

He served in South Vietnam from 1970 to 1971 during the Vietnam War[8] in the Army Rangers' 75th Ranger Regiment, attached to the 173rd Airborne Brigade.[9] He participated in 24 helicopter assaults[7] as well as in a number of night-time reconnaissance patrols.[10] He held the rank of First Lieutenant,[8] and was awarded the Bronze Star,[7] Air Medal,[8] and service ribbons such as the Vietnam Service Medal.[8] He has said, "I didn't do anything special in the U.S. Army, but I served with very special soldiers I will never forget."[8]

Making use of the G.I. Bill in 1973; he enrolled at the San Diego campus of the Western State University College of Law and earned a Bachelor of Science in Law and Juris Doctor in 1976. Hunter worked farming and construction jobs to supplement his income while finishing his degree. He was admitted to the State Bar of California on December 22, 1976,[11] but has held inactive status since January 1, 1983.[11][12]

Hunter married Lynne Layh in 1973. Hunter's son, Duncan Duane Hunter (born 1976), a major in the United States Marine Corps Reserve, was deployed to Iraq in 2003 and 2004 and Afghanistan in 2007. On November 4, 2008, Duncan D. Hunter was elected to succeed his father as the congressional representative of the California's 52nd congressional district. Hunter has another son, Samuel.

Hunter's family attends First Baptist Church of Alpine, which is affiliated with the San Diego Southern Baptist Association. Hunter's Alpine, California home burned down during the October 2003 Cedar Fire. The loss topped $500,000, but insurance covered most of it.[13] Hunter was critical of then-Governor Gray Davis's response to the fire.[14]

He has a brother, John Hunter, who has worked as a weapons scientist.

U.S. House of Representatives[]

Initial election and re-elections[]

In 1980, Hunter was recruited to run for Congress in what was then the 42nd District against 18-year incumbent Democrat Lionel Van Deerlin. Hunter was initially an underdog in a district where Democrats outnumbered Republicans by almost 2 to 1. However, his attacks on Van Deerlin's record on national defense gained traction in a district dominated by military bases and personnel. Van Deerlin did not respond quickly enough, and Hunter narrowly defeated him. He was one of many Republicans swept into office from historically Democratic districts as a result of the "Reagan revolution"; Van Deerlin had been the district's only congressman since its creation in 1963. After the 1980 census, many of the more Democratic areas were cut out of Hunter's district, and he was reelected 13 more times with no substantive opposition. His district was renumbered as the 45th District in 1983 and the 52nd in 1993.

In the 2006 general election, he defeated Navy veteran/minister John Rinaldi, a Democrat, and Michael Benoit,[15] a Libertarian. Hunter was re-elected with 65 percent of the vote, a 33-point margin over Rinaldi.

On March 20, 2007, Hunter announced that, as part of his presidential bid, he would not seek re-election to the House of Representatives in 2008.[16] After his son, Duncan D. Hunter, announced his candidacy for his father's seat, the younger Hunter was recalled by the United States Marine Corps to serve in the Operation Enduring Freedom — Afghanistan. During Duncan D. Hunter's active service, his wife, Margaret Hunter, campaigned on his behalf. On June 3, 2008 Duncan D. Hunter won 72% of the Republican Primary vote and became the Republican nominee to replace his father representing the 52nd District.[16]

House Armed Services Committee[]

File:Congressman Hunter.jpg

Hunter speaking at the National Maritime Day Events on May 22, 2002

Hunter became chairman of the House Armed Services Committee in 2002. As such, he sponsored legislation authorizing defense department fiscal year activities from FY2004 to FY2007. During consideration of the FY2006 Defense Authorization Act, Hunter offered an amendment to the bill clarifying enacted policy restricting women from direct combat units. Hunter's amendment codified existing Army policy enacted in 1994 under former Defense Secretary Les Aspin that prohibited women from submitting or migrating into combat units or operations. The amendment was subsequently withdrawn in order for a study to be conducted on the rationale and future implementation of the policy.[17]

In November 2004, Hunter and Wisconsin Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner withheld their support for a bill creating a Director of National Intelligence (DNI) until specific conditions were met. Hunter argued that the military is the biggest consumer of intelligence and any reforms enacted, including the creation of a DNI, must not endanger the lives of troops on the battlefield. The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act, which created the DNI position, was passed by Congress and signed by President George W. Bush later that year.

In a House Armed Services Committee hearing on November 9, 2005, Hunter strongly criticized a Defense Logistics Agency "prime vendor" buying program that led to the purchase of $20 ice cube trays and a tiny refrigerator for $22,797 (initially exposed by The State). Hunter stated that he wanted explanations from the companies in question and the government purchasing agents who had approved the purchases, accusing the latter of "absolute incompetence." He further stated that the purchases are "a real slap in the face to the guy making $13,000 a year who is engaged in a firefight in Ramadi," and claimed that "A fairly large amount of incompetence is embedded into the system."[18][19]

On November 18, 2005, in response to Pennsylvania Congressman John Murtha's resolution to terminate the deployment of United States forces in Iraq, to redeploy the forces already involved in Iraq, and to "pursue security and stability in Iraq through diplomacy",[20] Hunter and other Republicans drafted a two-sentence counter-resolution that read:

Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the deployment of United States forces in Iraq be terminated immediately.
Resolved, That it is the sense of the House of Representatives that the deployment of United States forces in Iraq be terminated immediately.

Democrats condemned the bill as a political stunt; they made much of the fact that Hunter himself didn't support his own resolution. The bill was defeated, 3-403, in the House of Representatives.

Hunter became ranking member of the committee when Democrats took control of the House in 2007.

On January 31, 2007, Hunter held a press conference on the 2007 Chinese anti-satellite missile test, stating that it "represents the commencement of a new era of military competition in space." He contended that the United States' ability to engage in warfare depends heavily on its space assets, and opined that the country must take steps to "ensure our forces cannot be targeted through an adversarial space strike."[21]

On April 25, 2007, after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid declared "the war is lost", Hunter wrote "my highest obligation is, like yours, owed to our forces in uniform, especially during this time of war.... Given your position of leadership within the United States Government, I find your pronouncement of failure irresponsible and disserving to America's armed forces. In light of the fact that this statement has both been used by our adversaries and has exhibited a marked lack of leadership to U.S. troops, I call on you to resign your leadership position".[22] Hunter further wrote that Reid's declaration "can have no effect but to demoralize the brave men and women, who are honorably fulfilling their mission in Iraq, and to encourage our adversaries.... Even if you sincerely believe it to be true, your pronouncement of failure will undoubtedly be used by terrorist leaders to rally their followers — inevitably leading to increased attacks on U.S. and coalition forces".

According to the July 2007 edition of Pacific Flyer, Hunter and Cunningham had pressured the Department of Defense to "... advise DARPA to put an immediate halt to bureaucratic delays and get on with the DuPont Aerospace DP-2 testing." The DP-2 is a Vertical Take-Off and Landing, or VTOL, aircraft designed by DuPont Aerospace to transport special operations forces, but has been repeatedly rejected by the United States Navy, United States Army, United States Air Force, NASA, and DARPA. The design, of which all four constructed models have crashed, has had $63 million appropriated to it since 1991, not including a suggested $6 million for fiscal year 2008. Despite the rejections and reports by multiple military and civilian experts that the aircraft will not fly or hover and will incinerate Special Operations forces rappelling out of the aircraft, Hunter has allegedly repeatedly added funding for the DP-2 in "earmarks" and defended the aircraft in recent testimony to the Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight of the Committee on Science and Technology. Hunter received $36,000 in donations from DuPont Aerospace.[23] According to his testimony before Congress,[24] Hunter compared the lack of success of the DP-2 to the trials of perfecting the V-22 Osprey. He alleged that such long-term testing is necessary to keep American forces equipped with the best technology.

Other legislative actions[]

Duncan Hunter's earlier congressional photo.

On December 8, 2006, Hunter introduced H.R. 6375, which would have required the defense department to post the purpose of all congressional earmarks in annual defense bills, along with the location and a grade according to the utility of the earmark.

Hunter introduced H.R. 552, The Right to Life Act, on February 2, 2005. The purpose of the bill is to "implement equal protection... for the right to life of each born and preborn human person." In the 109th Congress, the legislation collected 101 cosponsors.[25] Hunter states that The Right to Life Act "would legally define “personhood” as the moment of conception and, therefore, guarantee all constitutional rights and protections, including life, to the unborn without utilizing a constitutional amendment."[26] Hearings for H.R. 552 were scheduled for December 12, 2006, but were cancelled right before the House adjourned.[27]

On April 28, 2004, Hunter introduced legislation that he said could "turn parents into prosecuting attorneys fighting a wave of obscenity."[28] HR 6390 IH, also called the "Parents Empowerment Act",[29] would allow the parent or guardian of a minor to sue in federal court anyone who knowingly disseminates material "that is harmful to minors", or specifically, "any pornographic communication, picture, image, graphic image file, article, recording, writing, or other pornographic matter of any kind",[30] if it is distributed in a way that "a reasonable person can expect a substantial number of minors to be exposed to the material and the minor, as a result to exposure to the material, is likely to suffer personal or emotional injury or injury to mental or moral welfare."[31]

In 1994, Hunter legislatively mandated the construction of 14 miles (23 km) of security fencing on the international land border separating San Diego County and Tijuana, Mexico. In 2005, Hunter introduced legislation calling for the construction of a reinforced fence along the entire U.S.-Mexico border, citing crime statistics as measures of San Diego-Tijuana fence's success.[32] After successfully adding an amendment to a House-passed[33] bill that ultimately stalled in House-Senate negotiations, Hunter's amendment was later incorporated into H.R. 6061, the Secure Fence Act, introduced by New York Congressman Peter T. King.[34][35] He has said that if he becomes President, the 754-mile (1,213 km) double layer border fence will be built in less than 12 months.

Hunter repeatedly voted against international trade agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) and the World Trade Organization (WTO).[36]


Hunter was not implicated in the Duke Cunningham/Brent R. Wilkes congressional bribery scandal. In December 2005, Hunter directed that the contributions his campaign received from Wilkes and Wade be given to the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund.[37] "We had options," said Bruce Young, treasurer for Hunter's re-election campaign. "We could keep the money, send it back, send it to the government or send it to a charity. We just felt that because of the situation, we would rather not have the money."[38] More than 100 members of the House and Senate — Republicans and Democrats — accepted money from Wilkes, former MZM Inc. president Mitchell Wade, their relatives, employees or political action committees, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a campaign watchdog group.

2008 Presidential campaign[]

On October 30, 2006, Hunter announced his intention to consider running for the Republican nomination for President in 2008. Throughout 2006, his Peace Through Strength PAC raised funds and ran advertising expressing his issues of border security and fair trade. Hunter formally announced his presidential candidacy in Spartanburg, South Carolina, on January 25, 2007.[39] During 2007, Hunter did well in some county- and state-level straw polls, including a victory at the first GOP Texas Straw Poll on September 1[40] but those results did not transfer to regular polls at national or state levels. Some major polls did not even list Hunter as an option along with Mitt Romney, John McCain, Mike Huckabee, Ron Paul, Fred Thompson, or Rudy Giuliani.[41] When national polls did list Hunter, he consistently got three percent or less support among Republicans.

Conservative commentator Ann Coulter and aviation legend Chuck Yeager both endorsed Hunter as their choice for President, but Hunter received little support from the Republican establishment. Governor Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, who was also seeking the Republican nomination for President, stated that Hunter might play a role in a potential Huckabee administration, noting that he is "extraordinarily well qualified to be Secretary of Defense."[42]

As the caucus and primary season got underway, Hunter began being excluded from Republican debate forums. On January 7, 2008, he held a press conference where reporters thought he would announce his withdrawal. Instead, he surprised pundits by first lambasting ABC News and Fox News not allowing him to participate in previous days' televised debates and then declaring that he would not withdraw from the presidential race: "I am not going to let some arrogant knucklehead executive in a glass office 10 stories above a mall in New York City decide the outcome of this election."[43][44]

In the Iowa caucuses Hunter finished in seventh place with 524 votes, or one percent of the total. In the New Hampshire primary he finished in seventh and last place again with 1,220 votes, or less than one percent of the total votes cast. In the Wyoming caucuses he had his best showing, coming in third and scoring 1 delegate to the Republican National Convention. However, in the Michigan primary, Hunter once again placed last, coming in eighth behind "Uncommited" (which received 15,000 more votes than Hunter). On the last day of his campaign, Hunter won just two percent of the vote in the Nevada caucuses, and in the South Carolina primary he received only 0.2 percent of the vote, putting him in last place in both states. He withdrew from the race that night, on January 19, 2008. Hunter subsequently endorsed Huckabee for the Republican nomination.[45]

Political positions[]

Duncan Hunter is a self-described "true conservative". Hunter voted with a majority of the Republicans 88.7 percent of the time.[46] He was a member of the conservative Republican Study Committee.


  1. "GOP chairman takes first steps toward '08 bid". AP. 2006-10-31. [dead link]
  2. "Rep. Hunter drops out of GOP presidential race". Associated Press for USA Today. 2008-01-20. Retrieved 2008-01-20. 
  3. CNN Political Ticker
  4. Ancestry of Duncan Hunter
  5. "Duncan Hunter: Member, United States House of Representatives". California State Government Guide to Government. Retrieved 2007-11-09. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Representative Duncan L. Hunter (CA)". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved 2007-11-09. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Jill Konieczko (2007-01-29). "10 Things You Didn't Know About Duncan Hunter". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved 2007-11-09. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 "Once a Soldier... Always a Soldier: Soldiers in the 109th Congress" (PDF). Association of the United States Army. Archived from the original on May 11, 2005. Retrieved 2007-11-09. , p. 100.
  9. "Biography". U.S. Representative Duncan Hunter. U.S. House of Representatives. Archived from the original on November 3, 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-09. 
  10. "From the desk of Gen. Chuck Yeager: Congressman Duncan Hunter". Chuck Yeager. Retrieved 2007-11-09. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 "Duncan Lee Hunter - #71300". Attorney Search. State Bar of California. Retrieved 2007-11-09. 
  12. Inactive members of the California bar may not currently practice law in California. They have chosen this status voluntarily and may transfer to active at any time upon request. See "Member Status Definitions". State Bar of California. Archived from the original on October 18, 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-09. 
  13. Josephine Hearn, "A Hill of credit-card debt", The Hill, March 10, 2005.
  14. Jeff McDonald and Brian Hazle, "In the line of duty: Novato firefighter killed, 3 injured as flames overrun crew", San Diego Union-Tribune, October 30, 2003.
  15. Benoit, Michael (2006-10-25). "Mike Benoit - Libertarian for Congress, California's 52nd District". Michael Benoit for U.S. Congress. Retrieved 2007-09-02. 
  16. 16.0 16.1 ASSOCIATED PRESS (March 21, 2007). "Duncan Hunter's son looking to replace him in House". San Diego Union-Tribune. 
  17. "National Defense Authorization Act for FY2006", House Armed Services Committee
  18. Lawmakers condemn buying program, accessed January 17, 2007
  19. Zimmerman, Sacha (February 2007). "Insane Government Spending: Hot Plate Special". Reader's Digest. Retrieved 2007-01-17. 
  20. "The Library of Congress","Thomas", November 17, 2005
  21. "Hunter to Discuss New Era of Military Competition". KFMB-TV. 2007-01-31 accessdate=2007-02-01. 
  22. Rep. Hunter Calls on Harry Reid to Step Down as Senate Majority Leader Fox News, April 26, 2007
  23. Dunlap, W: "Shameful Waste", "Pacific Flyer", 28(7): 4–11.
  25. Right to Life Act 2005 list of cosponsors and text of bill, accessed October 30, 2006
  26. The Official Site of Duncan Hunter for US President in 2008 | Core Principles
  27. U. S. House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary Hearing Information, accessed February 1, 2007 Archived May 13, 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  28. bad link
  29. bad link
  30. "H.R.4239: Parents Empowerment Act","108th US Congress"
  31. "New Censorship Bill Turns Parents into Prosecutors", Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, May 18, 2004
  32. Hunter's Proposal for Strategic Border Fencing Passes the House. Decline about the same nationally during the same period: US Violent Crime, Dept. of Justice.
  33. illegal immigration reform bill
  34. Chet Barfield,"Border fence will be built", San Diego Union Tribune, October 7, 2006.
  35. "Rep. Duncan Hunter Praises Crackdowns on Illegals". Associated Press. 2007-01-29. Retrieved 2007-02-01. 
  36. VOTE DATABASE: 2005 House Key Votes for California,, accessed October 30, 2006
  37. “Hunter is ‘Duke’s’ friend ’til the end”, The Hill, The Newspaper for and about the U.S. Congress, March 7, 2006
  38. [1], December 8, 2005
  39. "Republican Hunter announces 2008 bid". The China Post, Taiwan. January 27, 2007. 
  40. Republican Party of Texas:
  41. Real Clear Politics: Republican Primary polls, July 10, 2007.
  42. Chafets, Zev (December 12, 2007). "The Huckabee Factor". The New York Times. Retrieved May 1, 2010. 
  43. TVNewser
  44. The Gate: N.H. Countdown: Of Knuckleheads, Huckaburgers & Crybabies (01/07/08)
  45. "Drop-out Duncan Hunter Backs Huckabee". 2008-01-23. Retrieved 2008-01-23. 
  46. "Members of Congress / Duncan Hunter". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2007-07-04. 

Documentaries, topic pages and databases[]

Media coverage[]

  • USA Today — Duncan Hunter associated with Randy "Duke" Cunningham/Brent Wilkes scandal, November 29, 2005.
  • MonksMedia Radio Network – Duncan Hunter Supporters Radio

Official sites for 2008 presidential campaign[]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Lionel Van Deerlin
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 42nd congressional district

January 3, 1981–January 3, 1983 in office
Succeeded by
Daniel E. Lungren
New district Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 45th congressional district

January 3, 1983–January 3, 1993 in office
Succeeded by
Dana Rohrabacher
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 52nd congressional district

January 3, 1993–January 3, 2009 in office
Succeeded by
Duncan D. Hunter (son)
Political offices
Preceded by
Bob Stump
Chairman of House Armed Services Committee
Succeeded by
Ike Skelton
Due to Democrats winning House Majority in 2006

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