Goli Ameri, the first Iranian-American to bid for Congress, tries to use her background to her advantage. So far, so good. Ameri powered through her Republican primary with TV ads saying her homeland's theocratic revolution taught her first-hand about "evil." And she scooped more than $500,000 from Iranian-American donors in her quest to unseat Democrat David Wu in a district stretching from West Portland to the coast ("Iranians for Goli," WW, Sept. 22, 2004).
But some of Portland's estimated 10,000 Iranian-Americans don't buy it. They say a Republican avid in her support for George W. Bush's economic and foreign policies doesn't deserve the backing of a previously apolitical community.
"She doesn't represent low-income Persian-Americans," says Farangis Jabery, an Iranian-American who works for Portland Public Schools. Ameri, a telecom consultant, entered Stanford University in 1973, then moved to France. Muslim clerics seized power in Iran in 1979 after a revolution against the country's monarchy.
Some Iranians opposed to Ameri have formed a group called Iranian-Americans for a Progressive Democracy. The group attracted about 60 to a forum last Sunday at a westside community center. U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer addressed the gathering, as did representatives from the John Kerry campaign and MoveOn.org.
Though the IAPD hasn't endorsed Wu and is nonpartisan, members say it formed in response to Ameri's ads invoking her heritage.
"Her stance on many issues doesn't serve the community," says IAPD's Ken Nadri. "She supports the war in Iraq and Bush's approach to the Middle East."
Nadri thinks many of Ameri's Iranian-American supporters are motivated as much by money as patriotism.
"A few people might like the tax cut," he says. "But she's not representing us."