BY BERDJ KARAPETIAN
If you have watched Mr. Keuroghelian or the handful of anti-ARF talk show hosts who lease program time on AMGA, you are by now aware the ANC-PAC had discussions and meetings with Mr. Keuroghelian about his candidacy after he announced his intent to run on television.
If you were not one of the Armenian-American registered voters who received the bi-lingual mailer from Nayiri Nahabedian’s campaign drawing attention to his 2001 conviction and comparing Nayiri Nahabedian’s and Chahe Keuroghelian’s qualifications on the basis of Education, Working With Young People, Women’s Rights, and Endorsements, you may have never found out that such a misleading mailer was sent. If you only listened to Mr. Keuroghelian and these handful of anti-ARF talk show hosts, you would come away with the absolutely false impression that the ANC-PAC had something to do with this mail piece. You will come away with the impression that the ANC-PAC has something to do with the removal of his lawn signs stuck in the ground in public spaces or on curb sides (against city ordinances).
You will have heard several times that Mr. Keuroghelian had made his decision to run after conferring with other likely candidates and learning that the ARF was not opposed to his candidacy. You will come away with the impression that the ANC-PAC is out “to punish Mr. Keuroghelian” (his words in quotes).
You will have heard the claim that the ANC-PAC allegedly “pressured Mr. Keuroghelian” (their words in quotes) to withdraw from the race. And, if you listened to Mr. Keuroghelian’s pathetic attempt to win your sympathies on March 30, you will have thought I had accused him of serving the interests of “Ankara.”
Since Mr. Keuroghelian states that he responds publicly to dispel false remarks, I would like to take this opportunity to set the record straight on these claims being made by Mr. Keuroghelian and his supporters.
Have I accused him of helping Turkey?
Let me start with the last point that I supposedly accused him of serving the interests of “Ankara”. Here is the full passage from my column. You be the judge.
“…Will our community be able to overcome this sinister manipulation by our competitors? Will our opponents in Ankara rejoice that Armenians our loosing site of the big picture by being distracted over which non-electable Armenian-American should receive their votes?” In the following paragraph of the column, I state “It is about demonstrating to our competitors in Glendale and our opponents in Ankara that we are sophisticated voters who will put aside our internal differences for the sake of Hye Tad.” If you conclude that I was indicating that the Turkish Government benefits from our failure to focus on what is of greater benefit to Hye Tad, you understood my point. If you conclude that I am accusing Mr. Keuroghelian of serving the interests of Turkey, I apologize.
Did the ANC-PAC pressure Mr. Keuroghelian?
As Mr. Keuroghelian has announced, I was present at the meeting between ANC-PAC representatives, Mr. Keuroghelian, and several of his supporters. Although the discussion was cordial and positive, it did not change opinions. It was clear that Mr. Keuroghelian was determined to seek election to the 43rd Assembly District, but he did not have the support of any non-Armenian organized interests. I do not recall any expressions or statements that could be interpreted as threats or pressure. Was there a request for Mr. Keuroghelian to not file papers to be on the ballot for the April 13 Special Election. The answer is an emphatic YES. We made the same request of Ms. Nahabedian.
Being aware of the situation within the community, the ANC-PAC was particularly concerned that the campaigning by both prominent community members could be exploited by those interested in dividing and minimizing the influence of our community. Community members have stated time and time again why can’t we be unified behind one candidate. I can tell you that the ANC-PAC made a genuine effort to create the opportunity for our community to unite behind one candidate. Unfortunately, it did not happen this time. Perhaps, next time the community’s wishes will be realized.
On the day the ANC-PAC endorsement was posted on the Asbarez website, Mr. Keuroghelian tried to foment anti-ARF sentiments on his paid TV program and allowed anonymous callers to make baseless allegations against the other Armenian candidate.
In my first column on the Special Election, I commented on this danger and warned against the “spread of negative messages” by candidates and their supporters. Unfortunately, the negative messages continued and a negative mailer was sent to Armenian registered voters by Nayiri Nahabedian.
The ANC-PAC denounced this mailer and urged Nayiri Nahabedian’s campaign on the day we found out about the mailer (March 18) that they should run a positive campaign based on issues and probability of being elected.
Did Mr. Keuroghelian Enter the Race after consulting other prospective candidates?
Mr. Keuroghelian and his supporters have stated on TV programs that he was the first Armenian-American to announce his intent to seek Paul Krekorian’s seat in the State Assembly. Mr. Keuroghelian has also stated that he consulted with other prospective candidates before announcing his decision.
I am not sure with whom he consulted but the one Armenian-American whose name was being mentioned in newspapers and the internet as a strong contender was asked. The other Armenian-American prospective candidate was Assemblyman Paul Krekorian’s district office director Adrin Nazarian. Mr. Nazarian had filed papers notifying State officials that he was planning on seeking election to replace Assemblyman Paul Krekorian shortly after Mr. Krekorian was elected to the Los Angeles City Council. Mr. Keuroghelian did not speak with this Armenian-American contender for the 43rd Assembly District seat. Mr. Nazarian decided to suspend his campaign when it became clear that Mr. Keuroghelian’s candidacy would divide the Armenian vote and seriously hurt his chances of being elected.
Is the ANC-PAC trying to punish Mr. Keuroghelian?
Mr. Keuroghelian has claimed that the ANC-PAC might be trying to punish him because he did not respond to the ANC-PAC questionnaire. That is ridiculous. The ANC-PAC is not interested in engaging in such petty behavior. However, the ANC-PAC disagrees with his decision to be in this race because he cannot win without significant support from the non-Armenian community.
The ANC-PAC is opposed to his candidacy because it is not only dividing the Armenian community vote. It is causing a greater rift within the Armenian community. His candidacy is based on the false premise that one can be elected as the Assemblyman from a district with less than 15% registered Armenian-American voters.