Dave Min, a law professor at the University of California, Irvine and a former adviser to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), is jumping in the race to challenge Rep. Mimi Walters (R-Calif.) in 2018.
“This is a unique time in our history,” Min said in a press release Wednesday. “So much of what we value, what makes our communities in Orange County strong, and what makes America great is under attack. Congresswoman Mimi Walters is complicit in these attacks with her 100% support of Donald Trump and has proven herself deeply out of touch with residents in our communities.”
Prior to teaching at UCI, Min served as the associate director for financial markets policy at the Center for American Progress, a leading liberal think tank.
Min is the second Democrat to announce a challenge to Walters, who has held the Orange County seat since 2015. Earlier this week, consumer advocate Katie Porter announced her candidacy, accompanied by endorsements from Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.).
Min, meanwhile, has drawn support from local leaders, including former Irvine Mayor Sukhee Kang and former Irvine council member Mary Ann Gaido.
Eager to take back the House from GOP control, Democrats have their sights set on several Orange County seats. Although the region is a longtime conservative stronghold in mostly-blue California, the county voted for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election — the first time the area sided with a Democrat since 1936.
So far, the race is shaping up to be a referendum on President Donald Trump, with both candidates citing Walters’ support for the president’s legislative agenda. Min also criticized Walters for not holding public town halls, a move that has also drawn complaints from her constituents.
While Porter has drawn national buzz for her high-profile endorsements and her role in the $25 billion mortgage settlement by Wall Street banks, Min’s establishment credentials and potential demographic edge (Min is Korean-American, and Irvine is home to one of the nation’s largest Korean populations) make him a formidable contender. But either candidate likely faces a tough race against Walters, who was re-elected last fall with 59 percent of the vote.
With more than 18 months until Election Day, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is staying neutral for now.
“Congressman Walters is very vulnerable this cycle, and her actions this year – including voting with President Trump’s agenda 100 percent of the time and supporting a disastrous repeal bill that would raise your costs and slap an age tax on older folks – have further clarified how out-of-touch she is with her constituents,” said DCCC spokesman Tyler Law. “It’s no surprise that there are very qualified candidates stepping up to provide the 45th District with the representation it deserves.”