ELIZABETH DOLE AMONG KEY NEW ADDITIONS IN THE SENATE
ARMENIAN AMERICAN CANDIDATES SUCCESSFUL IN CONGRESSIONAL–STATE AND LOCAL RACES
WASHINGTON–DC–The Armenian American community scored bipartisan victories across the political landscape yesterday–with 141 of the 149 Senate and House candidates endorsed by the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) winning their elections.
"We are extremely pleased that such an overwhelming majority of our supporters won yesterday–including over 94% of those we endorsed in the House of Representatives and 92% of the Congressional Armenian Caucus," said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. "We look forward to working with these friends and the many new members of the 108th Congress on issues ranging from affirming the Armenian Genocide to strengthening Armenia and defending Nagorno Karabagh’s right to self-determination within secure borders."
The Republican party regained the Senate majority on Tuesday–as voters around the country elected 51 Republicans and 46 Democrats with several races pending. Long time supporter of Armenian American concerns Elizabeth Dole sailed to victory with 54% of the vote yesterday evening–replacing 5 term retiring Republican Senator Jesse Helms. Dole defeated former Clinton Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles in one of the most contested Senate races in the country. Other Senate winners endorsed by the ANCA included Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell–a vocal advocate for maintaining US assistance levels to Armenia and Nagorno Karabagh. He was joined by Senators Max Baucus (D-MT)–Joseph Biden (D-DE)–Larry Craig (R-ID)–Richard Durbin (D-IL)–Mike Enzi (R-WY)–Tom Harkin (D-IA)–John Kerry (D-MA)–Carl Levin (D-MI)–Jack Reed (D-RI) and Ted Stevens (R-AK).
In perhaps one of the most unexpected Senate upsets Tuesday–Georgia Democrat Max Cleland lost his re-election bid to Republican Congressman Saxby Chambliss. Cleland–who had received an "A-" rating from the ANCA and garnered the ANCA endorsement for his cosponsorship of S.Res.307 and his support of efforts to maintain restrictions on US aid to Azerbaijan–will be succeeded by Chambliss–who had received an "F" Grade from the ANCA for his support of a series of pro-Turkey measures in the House. Two races remain unsettled–however–including that of South Dakota Democrat–Senator Tim Johnson–who has a slim lead against challenger–Congressman John Thune. Johnson was endorsed and has received an "A+" rating by the ANCA for his efforts in support of US recognition of the Armenian Genocide which include cosponsorship of the Genocide Resolution–S.Res.307–as well as numerous speeches on the Senate floor. In Louisiana–ANCA endorsed candidate Mary Landrieu (D)–while receiving the largest number of votes–did not receive the necessary majority–and is set to participate in a run-off election on December 7th.
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairmen Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Joe Knollenberg (R-MI) both will return to the 108th Congress–along with 115 of the 125 Caucus members from the 107th Congress. The ANCA will be working with activists across the country to increase Congressional Caucus membership in the 108th Congress.
The ANCA endorsed a number of candidates running in open races including Linda Sanchez (D-CA) and Devin Nunes (R-CA)–both victorious in the November 5th elections. In New Jersey–the local ANC chapter worked closely with Republican candidate Scott Garrett–who will be replacing retiring 11 term Congresswoman Marge Roukema. Rep. Roukema had received high marks for her support for a range of Armenian American concerns during her years in Congress.
MEMBERS LEAVING CONGRESS INCLUDE STAUNCH SUPPORTERS–OUTSPOKEN FOES
The Armenian American community will miss a number of Congressional friends who had played critical roles in Armenian American political victories but lost their elections on November 5th. Notable among these is Maryland Congresswoman Connie Morella (R-MD)–who was a staunch advocate for Armenian Genocide recognition and a range of issues affecting the Armenian American community. In August–2000–Morella had led a Congressional delegation to Armenia and Azerbaijan and spoke forcefully in support of the right to self determination of the people of Nagorno Karabagh. In what was likely the most hotly contested House race–Morella was defeated by Maryland State Senator Chris Van Hollen (D)–who played a key role in the passage of the Maryland Armenian Genocide resolution in 2001.
Pennsylvania Republican George Gekas narrowly lost his re-election bid to congressman Tim Holden. Rep. Gekas–had jumped from a "C+" rating in the previous Congress to an "A-" through active participation on Armenian Genocide related initiatives. In Connecticut–long time Armenian American issues supporter Nancy Johnson (R) soundly defeated fellow incumbent Jim Maloney (D)–who had received a "C" rating from the ANCA. Rep. Johnson cosponsored the ANCA Armenian Genocide Observance on Capitol Hill and urged President Bush to properly characterize the Genocide in his annual April 24th statement.
Perennial Armenian Genocide resolution champion David Bonior (D-MI) will be leaving Congress–following an unsuccessful gubernatorial bid in Michigan. Rep. Bonior–who has consistently received an "A+" rating from the ANCA–has introduced numerous Armenian Genocide resolutions and–working with California Republican George Radanovich (R-CA)–successfully advocated for an amendment to the 1997 foreign aid bill–reducing US assistance to Turkey because of their ongoing denial of the Armenian Genocide.
Senator Robert Torricelli (D-NJ) will also be leaving–following his decision to drop out of the NJ Senate race just weeks before the general election. Torricelli supported a range of Armenian American concerns during his years in the House and Senate–most recently introducing S.Res.307–reaffirming Senate support for the UN Genocide Convention.
Other supporters of Armenian American concerns leaving Congress include Michigan Congresswoman Lynn Rivers–who lost her primary bid to Rep. John Dingell–as well as Illinois Democrat Rod Blagojevich and Maryland Republican Bob Ehrlich both of whom ran’successful gubernatorial campaigns.
Senate and House Members leaving Congress who often opposed Armenian American concerns include Senators Tim Hutchinson (R-AR)–Phill Gramm (R-TX)–Strom Thurmond (R-SC)–and Fred Thompson (R-TN) as well as Representatives Joe Skeen (R-NM) and Bob Clement (D-TN) all of whom have received an "F" rating from the ANCA.
ARMENIAN AMERICANS ELECTED IN CONGRESSIONAL–STATE AND LOCAL ELECTIONS ACROSS THE US
Armenian American House members John Sweeney (R-NY) and Anna Eshoo (D-CA) led the wave of Armenian American election victories yesterday. In the California Senate–San Francisco Senator Jackie Speier (D) and Central California Senator Chuck Poochigian (R) were successful in their re-election bids. In the California State Assembly–San Mateo legislator Joe Simitian (D) is joined by two freshman Central California Assemblymembers Steve Samuelian (R) and Greg Aghazarian (R). Samuelian worked closely with the Armenian American community as district director for Rep. George Radanovich (R-CA) and has been an active member of the Central California Armenian National Committee.
In Massachusetts–State Senator Linda Melconian (D-Hampden Dist.) as well as State House members Peter Koutoujian (D – Middlesex 10) and Rachel Kaprielian (D-Middlesex 29) ran unopposed. In nearby Connecticut–State House members John Geragosian and Brian Flaherty won overwhelmingly. In mayoral races in Rhode Island–Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian received over 80% of the vote–while former Rhode Island State Senator Aram Garabedian narrowly lost the Cranston