WASHINGTON–Rep. George Radanovich (R-CA), a driving force behind Congressional affirmation of the Armenian Genocide and vocal advocate of the concerns of the Central Valley’s active Armenian American community, announced Tuesday that he will be retiring at the end of the current Congressional term, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
“Since his election in 1994, Rep. Radanovich has spearheaded successive Congressional efforts to secure affirmation of the Armenian Genocide, consistently standing up to those who would set aside truth for political expediency,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “We wish George and Ethie all the best in conquering the challenges ahead.”
In a statement released earlier today, Rep. Radanovich noted “As many already know, Ethie has been valiantly fighting ovarian cancer for nearly three years. My family needs me, and I intend to be by their side to win this battle. It is for this reason that I have decided to not seek reelection to Congress in 2010.” Read his complete statement here
Rep. Radanovich has played a central role in Armenian Genocide affirmation efforts, introducing and securing passage of an amendment to the House fiscal year 1997 Foreign Aid bill, which cut $3 million in U.S. assistance to Turkey — the equivalent of Turkey’s annual lobbying budget against Armenian Genocide legislation at the time. The House passage spurred a midnight press conference by then Turkish Ambassador Nuzhet Kandemir, rejecting the U.S. economic assistance package because of its connection to Armenian Genocide affirmation. Rep. Radanovich would follow up in 1997 by suggesting that funds rejected by Turkey be reprogrammed to Armenia, to offset the results of the devastating dual blockades by Turkey and Azerbaijan.
Turkey eventually accepted the funds. Rep. Radanovich was also the lead sponsor of the 2000 Armenian Genocide resolution, dramatically taken off the Congressional agenda just moments before House consideration by Speaker Dennis Hastert, now a lobbyist for the Turkish Government, in response to a request from the Clinton Administration. Since 2000, Rep. Radanovich has joined with Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) in spearheading successive Genocide resolutions, including H.Res.252, which currently has over 135 cosponsors. He has also been a consistent advocate for increased U.S. assistance to Armenia and Nagorno Karabagh, self-determination for Nagorno Karabagh and Congressional efforts to end the dual Turkish and Azeri blockades of Armenia.
Rep. Radanovich has endorsed California State Senator Jeff Denham in the June Republican primary, though Fresno Mayor James Patterson is widely expected to run as well. The 19th Congressional District in California is Republican leaning with registered voters split 44% Republican, 37% Democrat, and 14% decline to state.