HomeCity NewsSchultz, Asatryan, Pierson Lead in State Assembly Race Fundraising

Schultz, Asatryan, Pierson Lead in State Assembly Race Fundraising

By Gavin J. Quinton
Glendale News-Press

Ahead of the March 5 primary election on Tuesday, Burbank Mayor Nick Schultz, Glendale Councilwoman Elen Asatryan and democratic organizer Steve Pierson were leading fundraising efforts in the race to be North Glendale’s next representative in the state assembly, with more than $1 million raised between the three candidates.
In total, eight candidates seek to replace incumbent Laura Friedman for the 44th Assembly District, which represents much of the San Fernando Valley, including North Glendale, Burbank, North Hollywood and Sunland-Tujunga. Friedman is pursuing Rep. Adam Schiff’s vacant office in U.S. Congress as he makes a play for the coveted U.S. Senate seat formerly held by the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
As of the News-Press deadline on Friday, Schultz topped the list in dollars raised through the end of February, with $515,085 in total contributions. The money hailed largely from labor unions, individuals, law firms, select political action groups and from other California political campaigns.
Asatryan trailed Schultz with $344,277 in her campaign coffers, having amassed the bulk of her campaign donations from individuals, businesses, women’s political action groups and real estate interests.
Pierson, meanwhile, raised $241,203 in donations from individuals and the California Teachers Association, which was reported as a onetime donation of $10,900. He also reported a loan to his campaign for $50,000 from his own pockets.
Pierson bootstrapped the greatest number of individual contributions of the three candidates, at 626 donations. His average contribution was about $386. Schultz received 437 individual contributions and averaged about $1,176 per donation. Asatryan rang in the fewest individual donations of the three candidates with the largest average contribution. She totaled 226 contributions averaging about $1,510 per donation.
According to campaign finance data published on the California Secretary of State website, the remaining five of the eight candidates in the 44th Assembly race trail significantly behind Pierson, Asatryan and Schultz.
Personal trainer Adam Summer is the closest behind the top three candidates in fundraising, with $45,500 raised exclusively from 101 individual donors.
Recent UC Riverside graduate Adam Pryor raised $6,176 from 25 individuals.
Burbank Board of Library Trustees Member Carmenita Helligar raised $4,760 from 21 individuals.
Data for UCLA law lecturer Ed Han and construction manager Tony Rodriguez was not available.

Schultz garnered the most support from unions and labor groups by a wide margin, with at least 50 contributions from that sector. About half of his campaign funding came from labor unions and labor PACs, including California State University workers, service employees, health care workers and at least 16 trade groups including plumbers, carpenters, construction workers and bricklayers. He also received contributions from workers from the city of Burbank, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and both the city and county of Los Angeles.
Schultz also counted on more than $148,000 in donations from individuals. Notable contributions came from Roger and Charles Cusumano, the two principals in the Burbank-based Cusumano real estate dynasty, and Caroline Cusumano, wife of managing director of Cusumano Real Estate Group Michael Cusumano. The three made individual donations of $5,500 each. School Board President Emily Weisberg, Councilman Konstantine Anthony and airport Commissioner Jess Talamantes also made donations.
The Schultz campaign reported receiving money from 19 law firms, 17 of which are based in California. Other sources of campaign funding came from political action groups such as Democratic clubs, the CA YIMBY Victory Fund, and climate action groups. He also received a small portion of funding — $11,199 — from about a dozen Southern California and Burbank businesses, including a $2,500 donation from Warner Bros. Discovery, $2,500 from local waste management company Athens Services, and $200 from Disney Worldwide Services.
Schultz accepted contributions from six other political campaign funds, including $1,000 from Mike Gatto for Lieutenant Governor 2026, and one from Friedman’s 2022 assembly campaign. Friedman has publicly endorsed Schultz as her successor.

About 69% of Asatryan’s campaign funding was raised from individual donors, of which $5,500 came from Glendale estate broker Eddie Minassian and $11,000 from president of Armag Oil Vladimir Vardonian. Other notable donations came from Glendale City Clerk Suzie Abajian, former Burbank Mayor Michael Hastings and local activist Linda Bessin.
The second largest category of donors who contributed to Asatryan were California business interests. Collectively with the real estate and energy sectors, she received about $70,900 in contributions from firms such as the California Real Estate Political Action Committee, waste management provider NASA Services, Leo Capital Group LLC and the California Almond Industry.
Asatryan received donations from about a dozen political groups and PACs, most of which are groups whose seek to expand women’s representation in government, such as the Women’s Political Committee, Women in Power PAC and the Planned Parenthood Advocacy Project.
She received a $2,000 donation from Autumn Burke’s campaign for lieutenant governor.

Pierson’s campaign donors stem from his grassroots fundraising strategy; private donors gave him 99.5% of his total campaign funding, excluding a $50,000 loan from his own personal funds. The rest was a single $10,900 donation from the California Teachers Association. Of his top 5 private individual donors, four were from Massachusetts. Pierson had the largest portion of out-of-state donors.

First published in the March 2 print issue of the Glendale News-Press.

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