State Senator Dave Min has launched a scathing attack on his Democratic rival, Joanna Weiss, in their bid for Rep. Katie Porter’s contested Orange County seat. The ongoing feud, now publicly displayed through a series of attack ads, has intensified the primary race and raised concerns about the potential weakening of the Democratic candidate who will face likely Republican contender Scott Baugh.
The latest blow comes from Min’s camp, accusing Weiss of funding her campaign with money earned from defending accused sex offenders. The attack follows an earlier ad from Weiss criticizing Min for a DUI arrest last year, setting the stage for a fierce battle between the two Democrats.
The conflict, previously confined to Democratic circles, has now spilled into the public domain, risking damage to both candidates’ images and potentially benefiting the Republican candidate. Scott Baugh, a former Republican lawmaker who narrowly missed victory in the district in 2022, has secured substantial support from the GOP establishment and amassed a significant war chest.
Min’s attack ad, part of a six-figure digital buy, questions Weiss’s integrity, alleging that she and her husband made millions defending Catholic priests found guilty of child molestation in Orange County. The ad references a Daily Beast report on Jason Weiss, Joanna’s husband, and his legal defense work for the Catholic Diocese of Orange County in sex abuse cases.
Dan Driscoll, Min’s campaign manager, condemned Weiss’s alleged association with such cases, calling it “disgusting” and “disqualifying.” Driscoll emphasized Min’s commitment to survivors of sexual abuse and highlighted his legislative efforts in support of their protection and justice.
Weiss’s campaign vehemently denied the accusations, asserting that Jason Weiss primarily handled employment matters for the diocese and did not earn millions from the legal work. Despite Weiss loaning a significant amount to her campaign, her team clarified that the funds came from refinancing her house, not her husband’s earnings.
Emma Weinert, Weiss’s campaign manager, accused Min of spreading lies to divert attention from his own criminal history, referring to Min’s DUI arrest in Sacramento last year. Weinert argued that Orange County deserves a leader who keeps promises without resorting to defamatory attacks.
The battle between Min and Weiss revolves around the question of electability, with Weiss’s allies highlighting Min’s DUI arrest as a potential liability for Democrats in a key House race. EMILY’s List, a pro-abortion rights women candidates’ group, has backed Weiss with a significant ad buy, emphasizing her candidacy as a top priority.
Despite concerns about Min’s arrest, he retains support from key endorsements, including Rep. Katie Porter, the state Democratic Party, and the Los Angeles Times editorial board. Some national Democrats remain cautious, but major players like the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee have not taken sides, leaving the candidates to make their case directly to voters in the ongoing primary battle.