Debate heats up in the 43rd State Assembly race
Glendale Businessman, Chahe Keuroghelian, remains a controversial force in the 43rd State Assembly race, even though, he shutdown his campaign almost a week ago.
The Burbank Democratic Club (I ‘m a member) threw its 5th annual picnic at McCambridge Park in Burbank today. When I got there around 1 p.m., the event was in full swing with food, people, speeches, and candidates working the crowd. Elected officials included State Senator Carol Liu, Burbank Mayor Anja Reinke, Burbank Councilman Dr. David Gordon, and Glendale City Council member Laura Friedman.
Among the candidates: Mark Ameli, Randy Hammock, and C. Edward Mack all running for Superior Court Judge #28 — also, 43rd State Assembly Contender, Mike Gatto, was on hand.
Speaking of Gatto, he received an early and very strong endorsement from the Burbank Democratic Club. This has not set well with some of his opponents. One of them, local Guerrilla Journalist/Photographer, Peter Musurlian, showed up at the picnic with video camera rolling and hurling questions and insults at Gatto supporters. To say Musurlian’s style is aggressive is like saying the Lakers play serious basketball. The confrontation got pretty heated and ugly at times.
I spoke with Musurlian, who is Armenian-American, about his complaints against Gatto– and there are a lot of them. One is that Gatto and Chahe Keuroghelian formed some kind of unholy, secretive, alliance in the race for the 43rd State Assembly seat. This allegation has been talked about quite a bit during the campaign.
Last Monday,May 17, Democrat and former Glendale Department Spokesman, Chahe Keuroghelian, tossed in the towel and shut down his campaign. Keuroghelian was running a distant third to Gatto and Republican, Sunder Ramani. Glendale School Board Member, Nayiri Nahabedian, dropped out of the contest, days after losing out to Gatto and Ramani in the Special Election Primary back on April 13.
During his campaign, some accused Keuroghelian of being a spoiler — out to derail the Nahabedian’s campaign. In his farewell statement, Keuroghelian defends his candidacy.
Glendale, May 17, 2010– After consultation with my friends, advisors, and supporters, I have decided to suspend my campaign for California State Assembly. The strange scheduling of the series of elections in AD 43 in 2010 (Primary and Runoff occurring simultaneously) means that the Democratic nominee could face challenges from both sides. As a good Democrat myself, I will not be part of that. Thus, I am ceasing to campaign for the sake of Democratic Party unity.
There are those who will make all sorts of outlandish claims about my decision. These are the same people who have made outlandish claims about my presence in the race. Thus, I will also use this statement as an opportunity to remind everyone about the facts of this campaign.
My decision to run was motivated by my strong showing in the 2009 Glendale municipal elections, where I garnered almost 7,000 votes in that city alone. I had figured with the inclusion of Burbank and North Hollywood into the mix, areas with substantial Armenian populations, I could garner another few thousand votes and prevail in this race. The top vote getter only got about 12,000 votes.
For the record, and as the Los Angeles County Registrar’s records show, I remind everyone that I announced my candidacy on December 22, 2009. At that time, I was the second candidate in the race after Mike Gatto, and I (like anyone else) had no idea of what the eventual field would be. The other Armenian candidate announced her candidacy well AFTER I did. In fact, Ms. Nahabedian announced hers on January 7, 2010. Thus, if anyone “jumped in late” and “split the Armenian votes,” it was not I.
Had certain elements of the community coalesced around my candidacy (and provided the same resources they provided Ms. Nahabedian), the outcome could have been different. Instead, a small but vocal faction within the community decided to run their own candidate, in Ms. Nahabedian, well after I declared my candidacy.
The fact remains: I captured many more Armenian precincts than Ms. Nahabedian. Thus, if anyone is “the preferred Armenian candidate” and if one candidate is the spoiler, I submit that the shoes are on the other feet than what people might instinctually surmise. Plus, I did all of this with limited financial resources.
The hubris of this faction making these claims continues to trouble me. They continue to say things like “Chahe prevented a qualified Armenian candidate from winning.” I am a highly qualified candidate and respected leader in the community. I speak five languages and have served in many important public-service roles for the community. I have an impressive and dedicated group of volunteers who have stood by me for many years, sharing my selfless devotion in making sure that the voices of many who have not had the chance to be heard are finally raised; I have a genuine, committed, and clear following, which have, and will, vote for me without the expenditure of serious resources. It is thanks to my volunteers that in just this campaign, we were able to conduct an aggressive outreach to register new citizens, which resulted in bringing more than 2,500 new voters into the ranks of tens of thousands of Democrats of AD 43.I debated Ms. Nahabedian several times, and I (and many others) was not impressed by her knowledge of state issues. Thus, I would again submit that I was the qualified candidate.
I take issue with the idea that I took votes away from Ms. Nahabedian, for two very important reasons. First, the Armenian community is not monolithic, and it is racist to assume it is. We have many different political viewpoints and styles, and there are Armenians from many different regions. There are certain Armenians that would never vote for Ms. Nahabedian and who would not have voted at all if I was not in the race. Second, in that same vein, my dedicated volunteers turned out many voters that Nahabedian could not turn out. For this reason, the correct likely outcome, had I not been in this race, would have been, that a lower number of “excited” Armenian voters would participate, and thus a much smaller percentage of Armenian votes, period.
Finally, I cannot exit this race without mentioning whom I am going to support. While I probably will not endorse in this race, I can put to bed, emphatically, the notion that Sunder Ramani is a friend to the Armenian community.
Since his poor showing in the Special Primary (which he repeatedly stated he would win outright), Mr. Ramani has adopted the same unfortunate tactics that Ms. Nahabedian did: a “scorched earth” campaign that aims to inflame passions in the Armenian community, consequences be damned. I will not sit by and let Mr. Ramani manipulate the already fragile emotions in the Armenian community. If he thinks his path to victory includes attacking me, sparking discord in the Armenian community, and trying to use emotional issues (like the Armenian Genocide) as campaign opportunities, he really ought to take a lesson from Ms. Nahabedian’s defeat. These tactics do not work, and they only result in a disgusted community.
Looking forward, I will continue to work in the Armenian community, will continue to work on Democratic campaigns, and will consider my options for formalizing my public service in elective office in the years to come.
Two Candidates still in the running
So the race in the 43rd State Assembly District is down to two candidates, Democrat Mike Gatto and Republican Sunder Ramani. On the June 8 ballot, voters will be asked to make a choice in the primary for a candidate to run for a full-term in the 43rd State Assembly in November.
At the end of the ballot, the Special Run-off Election, between Gatto and Ramani, to see who will finish former Assemblyman Paul Krekorian’s term — which ends in November. Krekorian was elected to the Los Angeles City Council last December.
Conan O’Brien to tape new late night show in Burbank
In a City Buzz column last month, I suggested Comedian Conan O’Brien produce his new talk show here in Burbank. Never hurts to put out those good vibes. Last Sunday night, May 16, local media began buzzing with the announcement from Warner Bros that O’Brien is coming to B-town.
The Hollywood Reporter reports O’Brien’s yet-to-be-titled show for TBS Network will be housed on Stage 15, on the Warner lot, off Olive Avenue — not far from where “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” tapes at NBC Studios. Stage 15 is going to be very busy this season, George Lopez and Ellen DeGeneres tape their shows there as well.
There are reports out that O’Brien’s show will generate hundreds of jobs. I’m sending out more good vibes, hoping some of those jobs go to Burbankers. Glendale News-Press has a good article on the economic impact of the show here.
NEW UPDATE: Blog Catastrophe
Some glitches and problems remain on my blog . However, I can now post photos and graphics, so the blog is starting to look more like A Writer’s Groove. New posts/stories coming soon.