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Congressman in training

Robert Shaffer

GLENDALE -- At 19, Vartan Djihanian already has a pretty good

Republican resume.

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

ballot.

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,”

Djihanian said.

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

President Djihanian.

“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

AGE: 19

HOME: Glendale

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.”


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