The chief of staff to a Los Angeles city councilman is headed to the November runoff for a state Assembly seat, where he faces an uncertain challenger.
Adrin Nazarian received 27.5 percent of the vote. Nazarian, who works for Councilman Paul Krekorian, will likely face charter school executive Brian Johnson, according to the uncertified election results. Johnson captured 20.3 percent of the vote -- putting him just 83 votes ahead of Republican Jay Stern.
Ballot results for the other candidates were:
Nazarian benefitted from a strong showing among absentee voters. The first wave of mail-in ballots had Nazarian with 37.4 percent of the vote, according to results posted last night by the Secretary of State's Office.
Much of the discussion in the primary focused on the future of public education, with pro-charter school political action committees spending big time to back Johnson, and the California Teachers Association spending on independent expenditures in opposition to him.
Prior to running for office, Johnson was the executive director of the Larchmont Charter Schools. He is also a past executive director of Teach for American’s Los Angeles office. Democrats for Education Reform, a national group that works to elect Democrats who will overhaul the public school system, supported Johnson. That endorsement drew sharp criticism from Eric Bauman, chair of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party, who demanded the group remove “democrats” from its name. According to Bauman, the group’s name is confusing to voters who may assume the Democratic Party endorsed Johnson.
Johnson also tangled with the California Teachers Association, asking the union to back off of claims that he supports vouchers and wants to privatize public schools. The group spent $448,403 on independent expenditures in opposition to Johnson.
Parents and Teachers for Putting Students First, a group backed by former Washington, D.C. chancellor Michelle Rhee, spent $400,000 on television ads endorsing Johnson.
Nazarian was also criticized for the funds tied to his campaign. Nazarian received and returned $10,050 from lobbyists registered with Los Angeles City Hall.