California Dem Arrested for DUI Wins Primary in Swing House District

Dave Min was caught on camera lying to cops about how much he drank

California state senator Dave Min (@DaveMinCA)
March 7, 2024

California Democrat Dave Min, the state lawmaker who was arrested last year for drunk-driving a taxpayer-funded car at nearly twice the legal limit, secured his party's nomination in the Orange County swing district vacated by Rep. Katie Porter (D.).

Min, whom Porter picked to replace her after she launched a Senate bid, led fellow Democrat Joanna Weiss by roughly 7 points when Weiss conceded the race Wednesday night. His May 2023 DUI—and subsequent arrest video, which showed him lying to police about how much alcohol he had consumed before his arrest—did not stop him from notching endorsements from the California Democratic Party and the Los Angeles Times, as well as powerful unions, including the California AFL-CIO, the California Teachers Association, and the National Education Association.

Min's victory, while a win for the Democratic establishment that lined up behind him, could jeopardize the party's hold on a purple district. Min will face off in November against Republican Scott Baugh, who lost to then-incumbent Porter in 2022 by just over 8,200 votes after she spent more than $24 million to beat him. Porter by then had secured name recognition as a liberal crusader in Congress.

"This victory is not just about winning an election, it is about the future we are collectively shaping," Min said in a statement. "It's about rejecting the divisive, Trump-supporting MAGA politics that our opponent, Scott Baugh, represents."

Polling shows Baugh beating Min in a match-up, though voters will reshuffle now that the nine-person race is down to just two candidates. A February survey from WPA Intelligence found Baugh ahead of Min by 5 percentage points, while a November poll put Baugh at 17 percent and Min at just 12 percent.

The arrest appeared to hurt Min's fundraising, which totaled just over $1.7 million—less than Weiss's $2.1 million and Baugh's $2 million.

Min is not without his Democratic detractors. Former California congressman Harley Rouda (D.), who had thrown his hat into the same race before withdrawing due to a brain injury, urged Min to drop out following his arrest. Rouda suggested at the time that Democrats would be "hypocrites" to keep backing Min.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee also came out against Min, who failed to win the endorsement of the Democratic Majority for Israel. Jewish Insider reported that Democratic Majority for Israel leaders asked Min to change his position paper on Israel to make clearer whether he supported a guarantee of U.S. aid to the nation over a 10-year period and that Min refused to do so.