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'Apprentice' star ends bitter Democratic primary with 2nd District nomination

The Democratic primary race for Ohio's 2nd Congressional District ended with 'Apprentice' star Surya Yalamanchili receive the nod from voters in Tuesday's primary, ending months of bitter fighting among candidates.

The 2nd District race featured contested primaries on both the left and the right. The Democratic ballot featured Yalamanchili, a former P&G executive and recent reality television contestant, facing off against former independent candidate David Krikorian. Krikorian, a Mediera businessman, ran as an independent in 2008 against US Congresswoman Jean Schmidt (R, OH-2) and Democratic candidate Victoria Wulsin.

This year's Democratic primary caused not only a local division among several county Democratic parties, but it also drew national attention in the week leading up to the May 4 primary. A story broke just before election day alleging that Krikorian spoke of Yalamanchili (who has given himself the moniker "Chili") and his heritage in a derogatory manner. Krikorian denied allegations that he stated that "Chili's" last name was too "foreign sounding" for him to win an election.

Despite the denials and complete lack of evidence of the statement, the always-opionated MSNBC host Keith Olbermann branded Krikorian the "Worst Person in the World" on the show "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" last week.

Speaking of the effect of the race-based allegations made against him, Krikorian made it known that he blamed his defeat at least in part on the recent mud-slinging. “That clearly affected the final outcome,” he said. “That was the difference. We tried to run a very positive campaign, but one of our opponents stooped to the level of playing the race card.”

Krikorian appeared to blame both Jean Schmidt's camp as well as his Democratic opponents for the negative story. While he likewise has no evidence of any conspiracy against him, Krikorian has long had a bullseye on his back in his own party. In 2008, Krikorian broke from his party and ran as an independant, effectively handing the election to Schmidt, the Republican incumbent, by syphoning votes away from Democratic challenger Victoria Wulsin. In that race, Wulsin's finished behind Schmidt with 37.5% of the vote after Krikorian brought in 17.7% of the vote.

Both Wulsin and the previous Democratic candidate, Paul Hackett, backed the newcomer Yalamanchili early on in this year's primary, as did Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory. (See: 'Apprentice' star gains endorsements of last two Dem. candidates in 2nd District)

Chili will now face off against three-term incumbent Schmidt in November's general election. As it stands now, Schmidt is expected to win handily.
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Follow Joshua on Twitter and subscribe at the top of this page to stay up to date on the latest Ohio and Cincinnati news. Joshua is also the Cincinnati Crime Examiner and Cincinnati Political Buzz Examiner.

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