Congressman in training
GLENDALE -- At 19, Vartan Djihanian already has a pretty good
He was a page on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives,
appointed by Newt Gingrich. He is a member of the Armenian American
Republican Council and a deputy director of the California College
Republicans. And he is currently finance director for the Bruin
Republicans at UCLA, something that doesn’t always make him the most
popular person at school.
“We’re quite a minority and it’s an uphill battle, but we have a good
time,” he said.
Djihanian has launched a bid to become a member of the 43rd Assembly
District Republican Committee, a group that finds Republican candidates
and registers GOP voters throughout the district that includes Glendale
and Burbank. Djihanian and nine other candidates are on the March 7
Pam Corradi, chairwoman of the Central Committee, is seeking her
fourth term. Djihanian would make a good member of the group, she said.
“He’s a great kid, a wonderful young man,” she said.
Djihanian became involved in politics at a young age. Born in Lebanon,
he emigrated to the United States with his parents when he was 1. He grew
up with Republican parents who talked politics around the dinner table.
His activism started when he was 13 and attending Toll Middle School.
After a field trip to a courtroom presided over by a Glendale judge named
James Rogan, he picked up the newspaper and read Rogan was running for a
seat in the state Assembly.
“I started volunteering for him and I’ve hung around ever since,”
Someday, Djihanian wants to go to law school and run for higher
office. He has been with Rogan nearly every step of the two-term
congressman’s political career.
“He just has a lot of integrity,” Djihanian said of his role model.
“He’s someone people can always trust, even if they disagree with him.
He’s never disappointed me.”
Rogan thinks as highly of his protege. Djihanian will be governor or
president or anything else he sets his mind to, Rogan said.
“I’m just so terribly proud of him,” he said.
Rogan joked that he wants to get on the good side early of the future
“I may need a job as a law clerk someday,” he said.
Djihanian said including young people is one key to electing
Republican leaders in the district, which before 1996 was a traditional
Republican stronghold. Today, a majority of Glendale’s elected state and
federal representatives are Democrats.
“I think one group that has always stayed away from politics is young
people,” he said. “Jim Rogan and even (Glendale’s Democratic Assemblyman)
Scott Wildman will tell you the same thing. Young people can play a
critical role in the process.”
MEET VARTAN DJIHANIAN
OCCUPATION: UCLA political science and public policy student running
for a seat on the 43rd Assembly District Republican Central Committee
HOORAY FOR THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Djihanian is a Hoover High School
graduate, where he was the student representative to the school board.
WHY GOP? “It just comes from the way I was brought up, that ‘pull
yourself up by your bootstraps’ mentality,” he said. “It’s not about
getting a handout.”