Iranian Americans in the California Primary Elections
Washington, D.C. - A number of Iranian American candidates were on the ballot on Primary Election Day this past Tuesday in California. The candidates included, Edesa Bitbadal for San Jose City Council District 10, Farrah Douglas for California State Assembly District 76, and Ron Varasteh for U.S. Congress District 48.
Under California’s new “top-two” open primary system, the two candidates receiving the most votes, regardless of party preference, move on to the general election. If a candidate receives a majority of the vote (50 percent +1), a general election still must be held. Even if there are only two candidates in the open primary, a general election is still required.
Edesa Bitbadal – With all precincts reporting in San Jose’s heated City Council race, Bitbadal emerged as one of three finalists in the race. Bitbadal captured 19.11% of the vote, while her opponents Robert Braunstein captured 19.84% and Johnny Khamis held onto 19.71%. Only two of the top three candidates will make it to the November election. A large number of absentee ballots are yet to be counted, and any candidate could still demand a recount.
Bitbadal, a long time resident of San Jose, CA with over fifteen years working effectively in Government and assisting businesses, was one of six candidates running for the city’s Council District 10. U.S. Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, State Senator Elaine Alquist, San Jose Vice Mayor Madison Nguyen, and San Jose Councilmember Nancy Pyle, were among the many community leaders, public officials, and organizations who have endorsed her campaign.
Farrah Douglas – Douglas was one of three candidates vying for the hotly contested 76th State Assembly seat. A serving Councilmember from the City of Carlsbad, Douglas received 28.8% of the vote as compared to leading candidates Rock Chavez (38.9%) and Sherry Hodges (32.2%). Of the total 48,000 plus votes counted, Douglas was separated from the November runoff by only 1,650 votes.
Elected to the City Council of Carlsbad in 2010, Douglas is the first American of Iranian descent to hold an elective office in San Diego County. Her campaign for CA State Assembly was supported by a number of prominent elected officials and community leaders, including campaign co-chairs Assemblyman Martin Garrick, the incumbent who is retiring due to term limits; Carlsbad Mayor Matt Hall, who works closely with Douglas on the City Council; County Supervisor Pam Slater-Price, who will be retiring in January of 2013 after 20 years of service on the Board of Supervisors; and businessman and former Lincoln Club Chairman Tom Sudberry.
Ron Varasteh – Varasteh (D - Irvine) will face Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach) in the November general election. Varasteh came in second with 29.3% vote in the primary election with Rohrabacher receiving the most votes at 65.8% and non-affiliated candidate Alan Schlar coming in third with 4.9% vote. A total of 72,826 voters cast their ballots in the Congressional race last Tuesday.
Varasteh is an engineer by education, a small business owner, and an activist for causes pertaining to improved quality of life. He currently serves as a State Delegate to the California Democratic Party (District 70) and was a Council Organizer for MoveOn.Org in Irvine and South Orange County.