Mailer questions party affiliation in Assembly race (updated)

Adrin Nazarian and Brian Johnson

Adrin Nazarian campaign; Brian Johnson campaign

Adrin Nazarian, left, accuses his opponent Brian Johnson, right, of having ties to Republican campaign donors. Both men are Democrats.

In the race for the 46th Assembly district, one Democratic candidate is attempting to paint his opponent, also a Democrat, as a Republican because of the donors and independent expenditures supporting his campaign.

A mailer from Adrin Nazarian places Brian Johnson next to a picture of former President George W. Bush and asks, “What do Brian Johnson and George Bush have in common?” The front of the mailer is nearly identical to one that Nazarian’s boss, Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Krekorian, sent out in 2009 about his then-opponent Christine Essel. That mailer used the same photo of Bush and asked, "What do Christine Essel and George Bush have in common?"

The mailer states that more than half of Johnson’s donors are people who have also donated to Republican campaigns.

It goes on to say that “the right-wing groups supporting him were denounced by the Los Angeles County Democratic Party for lying to Democratic voters.” Last week, the local party sent a cease and desist letter to Democrats for Education Reform, a national organization dedicated to changing the public school system, demanding it remove "democrats" from its name. In California, Democrats for Education Reform is run by former state Sen. Gloria Romero.

“We’re very disappointed that our opponent has decided to take this negative. It’s a sad day in the Valley,” said Brian VanRiper with the Johnson campaign.

A page was set up on the Johnson campaign website today to respond to the mailer. According to Johnson, 2 percent of his donors have given money to Republicans at the national level. Those same donors have given to President Barack Obama and Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer.

As for the similarities between the Krekorian and Nazarian mailers, political consultant Eric Hacopian says he created both of them. The knocks against Johnson are “a very credible charge,” he said.

“That’s something that really stands out and that tells me that this is a Republican drive to win in Democratic seats in which Republicans can’t win,” Hacopian said.

The other Democrats running for that Assembly seat, which covers Toluca Lake, Sherman Oaks and Van Nuys, are Andrew Lachman, Laurette Healey and Adriano Lecaros. The Republican candidate is Jay L. Stern.

This post has been updated.

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