California state Senator Dave Min (D-Irvine), who is running for Congress in 2024, was arrested for driving under the influence Wednesday night in Sacramento near the Capitol. Officers noticed the senator didn’t have his headlights on as he passed by them, so they started following his car and caught the lawmaker running a red light. From the California Globe:
“The officers followed the vehicle to 9th St. at Broadway where they observed the vehicle stop at a red light momentarily but then proceed into the intersection while the light remained red,” the CHP said in a statement.
The officers proceeded to conduct a DUI test on Min. However, he failed, and he was arrested on suspicion of driving with a blood alcohol level above the legal limit of 0.08%. This was later confirmed, with Min then being formally charged with a DUI misdemeanor,arrested, and sent to Sacramento County Jail. On Wednesday morning the Senator was then subsequently released.
Min, who has “focused his legislative attention on passing new gun control laws and fighting climate change,” according to the L.A. Times, apologized on Facebook:
Democrat @DaveMinCA, Katie Porter’s endorsed successor for her open #CA47 seat (which is being targeted by both the @DCCC and @NRCC), discloses that he was cited for DUI last night. pic.twitter.com/hdvYr33H4y
— Rob Pyers (@rpyers) May 3, 2023
Kevin Dalton, a frequent pundit on life in Southern California, was not swayed by the apology:
A DUI should result in the immediate removal from office. If you are unable to demonstrate a modicum of self control, or don’t have the sense to call an Uber, you have no business leading.https://t.co/lfunEv2fC0
— Kevin Dalton (@TheKevinDalton) May 3, 2023
Dalton also pointed out that Min deleted a previous tweet about the tragic consequences of drunk driving:
— Kevin Dalton (@TheKevinDalton) May 4, 2023
The story might seem to be a local matter, but as the LA Times reports, Min’s arrest could have national implications by affecting the outcome of the 2024 elections for the narrowly-divided U.S. House of Representatives. Democrat Rep. Katie Porter is running for Dianne Feinstein’s Senate seat, and many thought Min was in the strongest position to replace her. While some strategists don’t think a DUI is enough to sway a race—“everything I know about the world of campaigns is that it’s not going to matter,” said one—others are highlighting the possible implications if voters do turn away from Min:
…the potential for a shake-up is enormous, and the political stakes are higher in a purple region like Orange County.
Min, a Democrat, is running for Congress next year in a competitive Orange County district that Republicans plan to spend heavily to flip. The seat is currently held by Rep. Katie Porter, a Democrat running for U.S. Senate. She narrowly won reelection last year against Republican Scott Baugh, who will be on the ballot again in 2024.
Democratic community organizer Joanna Weiss is also running, but Min had been seen as the strongest Democratic candidate. Democrat Harley Rouda, a former congressman from Laguna Beach, bowed out of the race last month to recover from a traumatic brain injury incurred in a fall.
I’m not so sure that the strategist who said the arrest posed no risk to the candidate’s chances is correct. Over time, the common view on DUIs has shifted from “it’s not that big a deal” to “there’s really no excuse to drive drunk when you can just call an Uber.” If the Republicans were able to flip this seat, it would be a big deal, because the district is among “a handful of swing districts in California that will help determine the balance of power in the narrowly-divided House of Representatives,” an April L.A. Times piece suggested,
One really does want to ask Min the famous question that Jay Leno asked actor Hugh Grant about his arrest: “What the hell were you thinking?”
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