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Nevada Tea Party groups steamed at candidate: Jon Scott Ashjian talks about his upstart candidacy


On Saturday, the dusty Nevada town of Searchlight – population: 700 – will be in the national spotlight when the Tea Party Express launches a nationwide bus tour from the pit-stop that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid calls home.

Headlining the self-proclaimed “conservative Woodstock”: former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

It’s an appropriate venue for the newly minted TV star – the run-up to the Searchlight event has fueled enough drama for a daytime soap. One of the major plotlines is the emergence of a “Tea Party” candidate who, established tea party groups now fear, could split the state's conservative vote against Reid and hand the Democrat a victory. (Check out our story in Thursday's paper.)

How worried are the tea party followers? Tea Party Express released an online ad this week denouncing Jon Scott Ashjian, whose candidacy has also been challenged in court.

As a candidate, Ashjian is a mixed bag. He’s articulate and well-groomed, but is also saddled with debt – including a $200,000 IRS lien – and a lawsuit-checkered business record.

This week, the Nevada State Contractors Board revoked his license, which officials said also bars him from contracting work in California, Arizona and Utah.

If tea party drama is your thing, read on for excerpts from an interview last week with Ashjian, in which....

... he addresses Nevada's top GOP candidates, his tea party critics and, sort of, Rosa Parks. (You’ll see.) Answers were edited for length and clarity.

(Also, if anyone's curious, Reid will be spending Saturday in the company of men with guns.)

Ashjian said he was born in Fresno and moved to Las Vegas in the mid-1990s. He and his wife have three teenage children. He listed his top issues as job creation, banking reform and reining in government spending and estimated he’d need to raise $5 million for his campaign.

Both he and the Reid campaign have denied accusations that he's a Democratic plant to split the GOP votes.

Why try to oust Reid, who wields a lot of power in the Senate?

I believe Harry Reid is powerful. I don't think Harry Reid has done a lot for Nevada. I don't think he's used his power appropriately. I think what he's done is made us beholden to communist countries. He's not used his power for the people; he's used his power for political gain and self-ambition.

How do you expect to compete with Reid’s anticipated $25 million war chest?

I don't think Americans vote on money. Does that mean if you're rich that you can only run for office? I think that's the whole purpose of the tea party movement. Sarah Palin's claim to fame is that she asked normal Americans to run for office. That's why we answered the call.

What do you make of the tea party activists who’ve denounced your candidacy?

The tea party movement in general has been co-opted by the Republican Party. I think what Republican Party has done is used that energy in the tea party to give them a false sense of security that they’re going to do the right thing at the end of the day, which I don't think they are. …

We're not excluding anybody from our Tea Party. I think it's deceptive to say there's a list of tea parties. A tea party can consist of one person.

Can you respond to the numerous lawsuits regarding your business dealings in Nevada and California?

We're going to respond to each one of those allegations on our website. If there are business or tax issues, we're dealing with those issues. It will all be cleared up. …

We believe it's pressure from the other side that doesn't want us to run why all of this is an issue. I think Sarah Palin got more bad press than anybody and it turned out at the end of the day that 99% of it was BS.

How do you feel about GOP front runner Sue Lowden?

I think that she probably will get the nod. I think she's probably least conservative in the race. I think she's pandering to Tea Party activists who don't want anything to do with her, according to what they tell me. Their choice is not Sue Lowden.

How about Danny Tarkanian?

(Tarkanian, another GOP contender, recently suggested to CNN that Ashjian was a Democratic plant partly chosen because he, like Tarkanian, is Armenian.)

I think Danny Tarkanian is a crybaby who knows he can't win. I think at the end of the day Danny Tarkanian can make whatever excuses he wants to make, but Armenians don't make excuses. Armenians battle through adversity.

There are other Senate contenders unaffiliated with major parties. Are they a threat to your candidacy?

I think there's three people in this race: Sue Lowden, myself and Harry Reid.

Are you going to the Searchlight event?

We're going to show up. We are the Tea Party of Nevada. We may be the Rosa Parks that's not allowed on the bus, but we have our own bus. You can write that.

-- Ashley Powers

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Photo: Associated Press (reid).

Comments () | Archives (6)

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These poor excuses for Americans have no problem spending billions in Iraq nor do they show any concern for the people who will die in foreign countries fighting a "war." They are all too quick to talk about costs, what about lives... isn't there a cost to lives. Isn't this the argument these people use to advocate for no abortions. The Tea party and these people don't want progress, check out this story on the tea party exploit

Maybe the Tea-baggers should check out the preamble to the Constitution before getting themselves all in a lather.

"We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

Liberty to ourselves is listed AFTER "form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare. The "I'm a personal sovereign" crowd has a lot to learn about the Constitution. Like the Evangelicals who are selective about using pieces of the Bible to support their narrow views, Tea-baggers pick and choose, out of context, pieces of the Constitution to fit their own narrow views.

This guy is not a representative of the Tea Party. He is a fake that has been planted by someone & it is not on the Tea Party side. Maybe Reid or SEIU or AFL-CIO? Who knows. But if my name was Daffy I wouldn't pretend to know what I am talking about when calling people of the Tea Party movement poor excuses for Americans. There was a 73% margin that did not want this health care bill to pass but wanted one that would not cost us so much money in the long run & take 500B away from Medicare for the seniors who we owe so much to for fighting for our country & our freedom & Constitution, especially in WWll when so many of them gave to keep us free & free Germany & the other countries from Hitler. The Tea Parties consists of not just Republicans but Independents & some Democrats. You have no idea of what the Tea Party People want because you are too narrow minded to open your mind & eyes & listen. Or maybe you just want to live in a Nanny state. This health care bill that just past is unconstitutional. No where in the Constitution does it say any American can be forced to buy anything, penalized if they don't, imprisoned, or have IRS add 25,000 on to their income tax. If the health care bill is so great then why aren't the Congress, the Senate, Obama & his administration & czars & the Almighty Unions going to get to keep their good insurance without the government interfering. I thought the states still trump the Federal Government.

I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country....corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed"
Quote by Abraham Lincoln, Nov. 21, 1864 in a letter to Col. William F. Elkins
Other quotes by Abraham Lincoln that maybe Obama could use.
No man has a good enough memory to be a successful liar.

No man is good enough to govern another man without that other's consent.

Public opinion in this country is everything.

Public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail. Without it, nothing can succeed.

Scott might just split the Mormon vote with Harry Reid too.

Chad Christensen will be the guy to beat in the Republican Primary. Fresh face in the race, but he wins elections and is a current State Legislator who has the best conservative voting record in the bunch.

Chad is coming on strong in the polls and will shock the world. Plus, he's LDS. Reid has never faced a Mormon in Nevada. Chad will take that vote totally away from Reid.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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