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California Senator Dave Min Struggles To Deliver Strong Primary Performance For Congressional Seat Following DUI Arrest Last Year

Some national Democrats have questioned his electability and fear his DUI record would hurt his chances among likely voters. 

California Democratic state Sen. Dave Min has struggled to run a strong primary performance for a seat in Congress this year after his drunk driving arrest last spring sent his campaign into damage control.   

Min is currently campaigning for the 47th congressional district in Orange County — currently represented by Democratic Rep. Katie Porter, who chose to drop her house seat in an attempt to replace the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein. 

Min advanced to the general election in early March after his opponent, Democrat political activist and first-time candidate Joanna Weiss, conceded. Min defeated Weiss by only 6 points, signaling a narrow victory following his run-in with the law.

He now faces former Republican Assemblyman Scott Baugh in November for California’s 47th district. Baugh reportedly received approximately 12,000 more votes than Min in the swing district’s primary race. 

But despite clinching his party’s nomination and receiving over 70% in the district’s election of Democratic party activists and club representatives, reports indicate some national Democrats have questioned his electability and fear his DUI record would hurt his chances among likely voters. 

Malik Griffin, a Los Angeles polling analyst, previously told the California Globe that many supporters who identify as older liberals lean more conservative in a non-political way when it comes to breaking the law.

“A DUI isn’t really forgivable for them, so you could see many of them switch support to Weiss or Baugh.” Griffin said.

Police arrested and cited Min in Sacramento on May 3 last year with a misdemeanor for driving under the influence, according to law enforcement and jail records reported by The Associated Press.

Authorities arrested Min around 10:50 p.m. near the Capitol after he was pulled over for driving without headlights and then running a red light. The senator from Orange County reportedly had been drinking at a few bars with fellow Assembly members, lobbyists, and realtors.

A California Highway Patrol officer noted in the report Min showed “signs and symptoms of alcohol intoxication.”

The Sacramento Bee reported Min had a blood alcohol level nearly twice the legal limit when he was arrested.

Authorities later booked Min in the Sacramento County jail, and was released the next day. Min was later sentenced to three years probation, ordered to pay over $2,000 in fines, and told to complete a 30-hour state-licensed alcohol and drug education program.

“Min managed to avoid a more embarrassing sentence,” Griffin said. “He avoided having his drivers license being revoked and any jail time besides what he got the night of the arrest. But the fact that he got a DUI in the first place and got three years probation and other punishments will still hurt him.

In a social media post following his arrest, Min said his decision to drive was "irresponsible."

"I accept full responsibility and there is no excuse for my actions," Min said. "To my family, constituents and supporters, I am so deeply sorry. I know I need to do better. I will not let this personal failure distract from our work in California and in Washington."

National Republicans have called on voters to “rightfully” judge Min for his past behavior, 

Ben Petersen, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), told the California Globe that Min’s conviction signals “more bad news for this embattled candidate running in one of the most competitive seats in 2024. 

“Democrats backing Min are recklessly speeding toward a dangerous political reality next fall,” Petersen added.


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