Paul Krekorian won the election for LA’s second council district seat!
This is a credit to very good organization, outreach to the many communities and components that make up that weirdly gerrymandered district, and also a very respectable turnout and effort by the Armenian community and ANC. It’s also proof that organization can trump money. If you add up the cash raised by each campaign itself, the money received from the city’s matching fund, and the independent expenditures made by outside groups (supporting their candidate or opposing the other one), the totals look like this, rounded to the nearest thousand:
Paul Krekorian: $666,000 (total); $223,000 (city matching)
Christine Essel: $1,729,000 (total); $184,000 (city matching)
I included the matching funds because those figures demonstrate something else. Paul’s contributions came in amounts up to $250 per person (the limit up to which the city will match) to a greater degree than his opponent’s. She obviously had fewer contributors giving larger sums up to the $500 maximum. And that’s not all. Both campaigns still have unpaid expenses and cash on hand. Factoring all this in, the Krekorian campaign is in the red by only $1,900, whereas Essel’s is over $90,000 in the hole. Imagine! These figures are likely to increase a bit as straggling bills and receipts arrive.
Between the votes and the money, clearly Krekorian enjoys broader support among the residents of the district.
The race itself got ugly near the end, and even absurd. Sure, there were hit pieces on both sides. But the Essel campaign and its supporters stooped a bit too low. One of her mailers claimed Krekorian is anti-Semitic, sexist, and generally hateful. Anyone who knows the man, or his positions, is struck by the utter absurdity of these accusations. In particular, the bases are ridiculous. Some misguided soul had posted anti-Semitic remarks to the online Asbarez article reporting Essel’s taking Turkish denialist money. Somehow, Paul was supposed to be responsible for this. The sexism? A picture of Essel as a puppet of special interest (see the money aspect above) from a Krekorian mailer was portrayed as “hogtying” her. Despite all this, Paul’s graciousness shined at the victory party. He extended a cooperative and forgiving hand to her, attributing the excessive ugliness to her campaign consultant.
So now it’s time to build a more grassroots governance in Los Angeles, fortunately including the Armenian community. This same community is now confronted with a new challenge. Who will replace Krekorian in the State Assembly to represent the most “Armenian” district in the country? Hopefully, we’ll have the wisdom to avoid the foolhardy, self-destructive, egotistical, embarrassing, and politically immature behavior that has caused much damage to the Glendale (the largest jurisdiction included within this Assembly district) Armenian community’s political clout.
But to end on a more positive note, this victory reflects what we can do when we act sensibly. And, this time around, as always, there was plenty more we could have done, organizationally (ANC) and as a community. So next round, let’s do a little bit better.
Finally, humor and irony are always present on election day. I’d be remiss if I didn’t share. I was assigned to a precinct that had posed problems to Armenian voters on September’s Primary Election Day. The polling place was a residence, ensconced in the hills, out of the way, very near where the Angeles National Forest boundary lies. I went there expecting the worst, prepared to do battle. But, it turned out that three of the five polling station staff were Armenian. To boot, I knew one of them! Then, there was the man whose wife had already voted earlier in the day and couldn’t give him a ride. It was 7:35 p.m. Polls closed at 8:00. He couldn’t drive since, as he put it, he didn’t want to land in jail. You see he’d just done some drinking… But this genial and jovial fellow eagerly accepted my offer of a ride, joking all the way about how he hoped I’d give him a ride back home, otherwise he’d be completely lost. He was also emphatic about hosting the polling place in his home next time around, since it was a “much better location” and not so impossible to find.
Get ready. There are lots of elections of (Armenian) significance on their way. And, be prepared to put out just a little more than the last time.