Five vie for empty seat

Five candidates, including four Democrats, have declared their candidacy in a race to replace Paul Krekorian as representative of the 43rd Assembly District.

Chahe Keuroghelian, a former public information officer for the Glendale Police Department who has failed in previous attempts for a seat on the Glendale City Council, is the latest addition to the field of hopefuls.

Keuroghelian is one of three Democrats to have registered for the race, according to California’s secretary of state.

Mike Gatto, an attorney and former district director for Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks), has stated his intent to run as a Democrat, but has not registered for the election.

Nayiri Nahabedian, a member of the Glendale Unified School District Board of Education, and Andrew Westall, a staffer for Los Angeles City Councilman Herb Wessen, have registered with the secretary of state’s office as Democrats running in the April 13 special election.

Sunder Ramani, former president of the Burbank Chamber of Commerce and leader of various area foundations and nonprofits, is the lone Republican who has registered to run for the seat.

If no candidate wins more than 50% of the vote April 13, the top two finishers will compete in a runoff June 8, the same day as a statewide election.

The crowded field of Democrats was welcome news to Jane Barnett, chairwoman of the Los Angeles County Republican Party.

“I think it’s even better because it’s going to be pretty obvious that the Democrats are going to split the hard-core Democratic vote,” Barnett said. “But we’re going to end up having a lot of Democrats and a lot of Independents voting for our candidate.”

Disappointment with Democratic representation, as exhibited in a Massachusetts election last week, was not isolated to the East Coast, Barnett said.

In that election, Republican candidate Scott Brown, who had been an obscure state senator, was elected over a Democrat who was heavily favored to replace the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, a liberal who held the seat for 46 years.

Although several factors were involved in that election, observers argued it was clear that voters were upset with the progress of Democrats and their policies in Washington.

That same dissatisfaction with legislative process likely applies to the Democratic majority in Sacramento, Barnett said.

“We’re feeling it in California just as heavily as they’re feeling it in the East and across the country,” she said.

But Californians, and constituents in the 43rd Assembly District in particular, have heavily favored Democrats and will likely continue to do so, said Eric Bauman, chairman of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party.

“There’s a reason why in the marketplace of ideas in California, the Republicans lose over and over and over again. That’s because their ideas are out of touch with the people of California, and that’s just kind of a reality,” Bauman said.

About 47% of district voters are registered Democrats, with 25% Republicans and 23% Independents.

And during the 2008 presidential election, 70% of district voters cast their ballots for Barack Obama.

Bauman acknowledged that frustration played a role in the Massachusetts election, but argued the same sentiments would not result in Republican votes April 13.

“To be sure, voters are angry and frustrated, and that is Democrats as well as Republicans and Independents, but what you’re talking about here is a district that is 2-to-1 Democrats versus Republicans,” Bauman said.

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