Courtesy of California National Guard via Flickr under CC BY 2.0

California State Senator from Irvine, Dave Min, was pulled over in Sacramento after driving without his headlights on and running a red light. A blood alcohol test revealed he had exceeded the legal limit after he was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving. Senator Min is the front-running Democratic candidate for the House of Representatives in the California 47th. This choice may cost Senator Min the party and voter support he needs to win a congressional race.

Already dubbed “DUI Dave” by Republican competitors, Senator Min released a statement apologizing for his actions in a social media post. People responded, understandably, with frustration, anger and disappointment. The State Senator has been endorsed by Representative, and Senate candidate, Katie Porter and a number of others in his congressional run, and there is a question as to how his endorsees will respond. The California GOP is already utilizing this incident in their favor, calling on his supporters to question his candidacy. The blowback of this incident is undeniable, and there is no denying it is warranted.

The DUI arrest of a California lawmaker in Sacramento is something of a commonality as four different legislators were confronted with charges from 2010 to 2014. Furthermore, Min’s apology appears to be going a long way, at least in the view of California Senate leadership as Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins made a statement saying, “Like Senator Min, we’re disappointed in his actions, but pleased that he’s taken responsibility and apologized.”

However, this incident may cost Californians any moonshot at a rational and issue-based campaign and Democrats a House seat they desperately need to hold onto. With this incident, David Min might lose widespread support, but this doesn’t mean Democrats have lost the seat. The campaign of Democrat Joanna Weiss might be where the party throws its weight behind. 

The California 47th encompasses Huntington Beach, Costa Mesa, Newport Beach and Laguna Beach and is a major focus in the 2024 election as Democrats try to take five seats and control of the House. The party might have to abandon the candidate in order to reach its ultimate goal of a Democratic majority in the House.

This incident was the height of stupidity for the Senator in what is already a very close race. Drunk driving has always been a selfish crime with no excuse. This incident may be a sticking point for voters. It’s obvious that it will hurt Senator Min’s chances, but what this means for the California Democratic party is still unclear. It may be time for the Senator to step aside and withdraw from the race to preserve any chance of a worthwhile race and election.