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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 outFor 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.

Chahe Keuroghelian


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.

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9 Responses to City Buzz

  1. A witness Sunday, May 23, 2010 at 12:03 pm #

    Peter Mursurlian is a racist. He spends his energies accusing people of opposing Armenians on racial grounds. He repeatedly demanded of the Burbank Democratic Club had they ever endorsed an Armenian in a primary against a non-Armenian.

    If the Club had not, what would that prove? However, in the five year history of the club, there have been two opportunities as described. In Krekorian vs Essel, the Club unanimously endorsed Krekorian.

    Mursurlian is pathetic. Mursurlain is a racist. He will vote for an Armenian in any race under any circumstances before he votes for a non-Armenian.

    And he is an angry and violent creepy stalker.

  2. Albion Porter Monday, May 24, 2010 at 1:08 am #

    Peter Mursurlian is a racist. He spends his energies accusing people of opposing Armenians on racial grounds. He repeatedly demanded of the Burbank Democratic Club had they ever endorsed an Armenian in a primary against a non-Armenian.

  3. Jim C. Monday, May 24, 2010 at 3:09 am #

    Didn’t Musurlian used to work for the city? Maybe he knows more than people think– vote splitting is hardly a new idea.

    And since when did Nahabedian run a vicious campaign? That notion is silly. Most of the hate mail came from Gatto.

    I strongly suspect that some of Gatto’s strength came from crossover Republicans. He wouldn’t have done as well in a closed primary against another Anglo — he’s a good looking guy who ran against foreigners, all with accents.

  4. Fronnie Monday, May 24, 2010 at 11:52 am #

    Jim C.,

    I have to disagree with you on who sent out the most mean-spirited mailers. I collected a huge stack — and true most had Gatto’s face on them — but the majority were from the Nahabedian campaign. That surprised me. Clearly, Nahabedian got some bad campaign advice. I voted for Nahabedian on the strength of her candidacy, but was concerned by the vicious tone of those mailers. And I said so on this blog.

    Rumors and speculation about Gatto and Keuroghelian being in cahoots have been widespread — but I haven’t seen any proof of it, so far.

  5. DixieFlyer Tuesday, May 25, 2010 at 1:08 am #

    What’s with the racist accusation?

    During my education in Burbank Schools, we learned that
    there are 3 racial groups. Period.

    We also learned some Geography.

    In “Old Armenia” are located some mountains that haven’t
    moved last time I saw some satellite shots.

    Those mountains are called the Caucasus Mountains.

    Gee, maybe Armenians are Caucasian??

    We have plenty to argue about, let’s not try to
    re-write History and Science at the same time.

    I know Peter, and his family–he’s NOT a racist!!

  6. Al in SoCal Tuesday, May 25, 2010 at 6:10 pm #

    I’ve worked a local campaign before (in Los Angeles years ago) – and inevitably most campaign managers all resort to ugly attack mailers – period.

    While people say they dislike attack ads, they work. Sad, but true. Instead of running a positive I can do this and that campaign, it’s much easier and more importantly COST effective to drag down your opponent.

    I’m not excusing the behavior – simply trying to explain why candidates resort to these tactics.

  7. Watch Dog Wednesday, May 26, 2010 at 12:48 pm #

    You are right Al. Almost all campaigns pull the attack and dirty deeds approach during campaigns. Some go in thinking they will avoid it and then one of the other candidates starts it up and well people are people and it’s just hard not to respond in kind.

    The public complains about it yet liek Al says they vote for the dirtiest of the candidates in the campaign tactics area in many elections. This sends the message that while the public say they don’t like it actually they do — because it so often works.

    Rather amusing reading what A witness says above. Isn’t it interesting that the Burbank Democratic Club would endorse in the election run between Krejorian and Essel. That was a Los Angeles City Council seat race. Did they notice that all Los Angeles City Council Seats are outside of Burbank?

    Someone should buy them a map before they stick their noses into the city council race in Riverside or Temecula.

  8. David in Burbank Sunday, June 13, 2010 at 2:44 pm #

    Dog — Part of the AD43 is in LA District 2, though certainly not the bulk of it. However, that is not the point, the point was we knew Paul Krekorian, liked him very much as our Assemblyman and as a person and wanted to express that formally. An endorsement is not much different than a letter of reference you get from your current employer to convince a potential new employer you are worth hiring. In case you were unaware of it, people outside a district can endorse as they wish and it happens all the time. If the Burbank Democratic Club meets a candidate running in Temecula we like we are perfectly free to endorse him or her just as you may endorse as you see fit in our district. But who would care?

    In this case, we were not at all convinced our endorsement would matter much, but wanted to make it as show of our support for Paul’s candidacy. We do not claim credit for his eventual win either, though some other endorsements that followed ours may have been at least slightly influenced by it. We’ll never know and it doesn’t matter. The Burbank Democratic Club is a very small club and the degree to which people have paid us attention is astonishing.

  9. Kevin of Burbank Sunday, June 13, 2010 at 8:12 pm #

    Yo, Dog.

    Krekorian ASKED us for our endorsement, so go whine to Paul about his ability to read a damned map.

    You punk.

Comments are closed.