3 want seat in 43rd District

At least three candidates have publicly stated their intents to replace Assemblyman Paul Krekorian (D-Los Angeles), with a fourth weighing a decision to jump into the race.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has yet to call a special election to fill the seat, but the date could be set for as early as April. It could also be tied in with a statewide election June 8.

Krekorian, who won an election for a seat on the Los Angeles City Council, will vacate his Assembly post Monday and will be sworn in at L.A. City Hall on Tuesday.

One Republican and two Democrats have kicked off campaigns in the 43rd Assembly District, which encompasses the majority of Glendale and Burbank, as well as the Los Angeles communities of Atwater Village, Los Feliz, North Hollywood, Silver Lake, Toluca Lake, Valley Glen and Van Nuys.

Democrat Andrew Westall, a Toluca Lake resident who serves as a senior deputy for L.A. Councilman Herb Wesson and is an adjunct professor at Pasadena City College, kicked off his campaigning this month.

Democrat Mike Gatto, an attorney and former district director for Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks), had previously stated his intent to run and Republican Sunder Ramani, a business consultant, leader of various community organizations and previous president of the Burbank Chamber of Commerce, had also entered the fray.

A fourth potential candidate, Adrin Nazarian, who serves as Krekorian’s chief of staff, has not declared his intent to run for the seat, but has registered a campaign committee with the Secretary of State’s office, leaving the door open for the move.

While Republicans have so far united behind Ramani, hoping that his broad community recognition through his involvement in organizations like the March of Dimes and educational foundations will garner support, Democrats have remained unfazed about his candidacy.

“They are not going to win this seat,” Eric Bauman, chairman of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party said of the Republican party.

“This is overwhelmingly a Democratic district and Republicans have the fantasy that Barack Obama and the Democratic party is so unpopular.”

The 43rd Assembly District has voted largely in favor of Democrats in recent years, with President Obama winning the support of 70% of voting constituents a year ago, according to the Secretary of State’s office.

Also in 2008, 68% of voters cast ballots in favor of Krekorian, over Republican Jane Barnett, who serves as chairwoman of the Los Angeles County Republican Party.

Two years prior, Krekorian won by a margin of 63% to 30% over Republican Michael Agbaba.

About 47% of the district voters are registered as Democrats, compared with 25% as Republicans and 23% who declined to state a party affiliation.

Still, Ramani and other Republicans contend that party affiliation has become less of an issue as voters have begun to recognize the urgency to do away with partisan divides in order to solve fundamental problems.

“This is not about Democrat or Republican in my eyes,” Ramani said. “I’ve been a registered Republican, but I’ve had as hard a time with the Republican party as anyone else has.”

Get in touch ZAIN SHAUK covers business and politics. He may be reached at (818) 637-3238 or by e-mail at zain.shauk@latimes.com.

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