WASHINGTON–As Armenia’s around the world celebrated Christmas Tuesday, Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) staff and activists spread good cheer on Capitol Hill, participating in the Congressional swearing-in ceremony kicking off the 111th Congress.
“With a new Congress beginning its legislative session, it was a great day to be on Capitol Hill, to reconnect with seasoned supporters and to meet with Members of the freshman class,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “In the upcoming weeks, we look forward to expanding on these meetings here in Washington, DC and around the country as we pursue a proactive agenda in 2009.”
ANCA Legislative Affairs Director Raffi Karakashian, Legislative Team Member Garo Manjikian and activists from California, Rhode Island, Michigan, Nevada and New Jersey spoke with a range of Senators and Representatives on the upcoming legislative agenda–focusing on Armenian Genocide reaffirmation efforts, self-determination for Nagorno Karabakh and efforts to strengthen the U.S.-Armenia relationship.
In all, the ANCA team met with elected officials and staff from over 25 Congressional offices including Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL), Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA), Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), as well as House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) and a range of freshman Representatives including Duncan Hunter (R-CA), Jared Polis (D-CO), Gary Peters (D-MI), and Paul Tonko (D-NY).
In total, 94% of ANCA endorsed candidates were elected to the 111th Congress, with 201 of 211 securing decisive wins in the November 2008 elections. Among those winning in tight House races, with Armenian American support, were Armenian Genocide Resolution supporters Mike McCaul (R-TX), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), Tim Walz (D-MD) and Florida Representatives Lincoln Diaz Balart (R-FL), Mario Diaz Balart (R-FL) and Ron Klein (D-FL). Armenian American Congresswomen Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Jackie Speier (D-CA) won their reelection bids overwhelming with 70% and 75% respectively. ANC OH chairman Dave Krikorian (OH-2) garnered an impressive 18% in his independent Congressional bid, laying a solid foundation for future electoral campaigns.
In the Senate, 12 of 15 ANCA endorsed candidates won their election bids, including Armenian Genocide Resolution lead sponsor Richard Durbin (D-IL), John Kerry (D-MA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Carl Levin (D-MI) as well as Mark Udall (D-CO) and Tom Udall (D-NM), who moved from the House to the Senate.