An Orange County Democrat who is among the candidates vying to unseat Rep. Michelle Steel in Congress announced Thursday morning that he would be dropping out of the race due to a “lack of joy,” before later saying the announcement was sent out by mistake hours later.
The campaign team of congressional hopeful Aditya Pai sent an email Thursday morning around 8 a.m., in which he told supporters he would be suspending his campaign because his heart was no longer fully in the race.
“At this moment, I don’t enjoy the life of a politician. And were I fortunate enough to be elected, I am now certain, I would be unhappy in Congress,” Pai wrote in the campaign letter.
Pai, 31, was one of four Democrats looking to unseat the Republican Steele in the 45th Congressional District, which includes the cities of Fountain Valley, Westminster, Garden Grove, Cypress, Buena Park, Cerritos and Artesia.
Pai’s initial email was direct, with the tone of someone who was sure of their choice to drop out of a competitive race in a district that is considered to be Purple on the political spectrum.
“I don’t believe in expressive campaigns. So since I no longer wish to win or serve you in the House, my campaign is over,” the email wrote.
He said he would instead be looking at ways to contribute to the community in ways that didn’t involve higher office.
But hours later, Pai changed his tune.
In a second email that landed in inboxes about eight hours after the first, Pai said the news of his campaign’s conclusion was sent out by mistake.
The initial email was sent out by a staffer who is now no longer with the campaign, Pai said.
While he didn’t deny putting the words to paper and drafting the letter, the congressional candidate said it was a note drafted during a period of intense emotion. It was supposed to be seen only by trusted advisors and friends, not the public as a whole, Pai claimed.
In the follow-up email he admitted that he had considered dropping out, but made full assurances that he was continuing the campaign and believed there remained a path to victory.
“The feelings expressed in that email are all true. I hope to share even more raw impressions with you soon. However, I will absolutely NOT be suspending my campaign,” the second email reads.
Pai, who a pro-bono attorney based in Brea, is among four Democrats seeking to unseat Steel in Congress.
Kim Bernice Nguyen, a Garden Grove councilmember, Cheyenne Hunt, an attorney with Public Citizen, and Jimmy Pham, an immigration lawyer and small business owner, are the other Democrats to officially throw their hats in the ring.