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Political Landscape:

Ramani: Gatto is aloof

Republican says opponent has ducked debates. Democrat replies that he’s had prior obligations.

May 20, 2010

Representatives for Republican Assembly candidate Sunder Ramani are arguing that his opponent is dodging opportunities to participate in debates ahead of the June 8 runoff election to represent Glendale, Burbank and parts of Los Angeles.

Ramani participated alone in a televised town hall Sunday hosted by the Armenian National Committee on Horizon Armenian Television. Democrat Mike Gatto did not attend the event at the Horizon studio in Hollywood because of a scheduling conflict, according to his campaign.

“The ANC has given Mike multiple dates and multiple times to hold that forum [on Sunday] and each time Mike told the ANC that he had a scheduling conflict,” said John Thomas, a political consultant for Ramani.

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Although Gatto was presented with multiple date options for the forum, he could not commit to any of them.

The organization decided to hold the forum Sunday and offer Gatto a separate opportunity to participate in a televised town hall on his own, said Berdj Karapetian, a member of the organizing committee for the event.

“It was a good exchange, and we hope to give that same opportunity to Mr. Gatto,” Karapetian said of the hourlong town hall.

But Gatto’s campaign argued that it didn’t know the Sunday date had been set until a day earlier, leaving little time to back out of other commitments.

“The fact of the matter is something was scheduled and we had given them several alternate dates to do this,” said Mike Shimpock, a political consultant for Gatto’s campaign. “We’re happy to show up at something, but if we’re given one day’s notice about it, which is what we were?.?.?.?it makes it very unlikely that we will be able to attend.”

The Armenian National Committee, however, notified Gatto of the date options a week earlier and sent him a written invitation on May 12 to participate in the event, Karapetian said.

Regardless, Gatto argued that he has frequently debated with Ramani in forums, including four times over the last month and a half, and did not need to do so again.

“I am focusing my efforts now on speaking with voters,” Gatto said.

Larry Zarian, host of “The Larry Zarian Show,” said he has also had trouble coordinating with Gatto for debates.

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