November Election: Time to Reward Friends and Punish Foes in Congress
Last October, when the House Foreign Affairs Committee approved the Armenian Genocide resolution by a vote of 27-21, Armenians were naturally elated. They had just defeated the combined forces of the Bush Administration, the Turkish government and its highly paid Washington lobbyists.
While Armenian-Americans should be commended for this important achievement, they seem to have overlooked that 21 members of Congress had gone on record siding with the denialist regime in Ankara, opposing a resolution on the Armenian Genocide.
Just imagine what would have happened if that resolution had been about the Holocaust and even a single member of Congress had voted against it! Justifiably, there would have been nationwide condemnation of that legislator, who would have been either pressured to resign or defeated during the next election! It is simply amazing that 21 members of Congress would vote against the Armenian Genocide and not a whimper is heard from the Armenian community and no action is taken against them.
Nevertheless, Armenian-Americans can still act against these legislators by contributing funds and voting for candidates challenging them in the November 4 election. Here are the names of the House Foreign Affairs Committee members who voted against the Armenian Genocide Resolution on October 10, 2007: Gresham Barrett (R-SC), Roy Blunt (R-MO), John Boozman (R-AR), Dan Burton (R-IN), Russ Carnahan (D-MO), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), Ruben Hinojosa (D-TX), Bob Inglis (R-SC), Connie Mack (R-FL), Gregory Meeks (D-NY), Brad Miller (D-NC), Mike Pence (R-IN), Ted Poe (R-TX), Illeana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), David Scott (D-GA), Adam Smith (D-WA), John Tanner (D-TN), and Robert Wexler (D-FL). Luis Fortuno (R-PR) and Thomas Tancredo (R-CO) are not running for re-election.
Another group of House Members whose re-election should be opposed consists of those who initially sponsored the Armenian Genocide resolution and then, under pressure from the Bush Administration and pro-Turkish lobbyists, withdrew their names from the list of co-sponsors: Marion Berry (D-AR), Sanford Bishop, Jr. (D-GA), Dan Boren (D-OK), Allen Boyd (D-FL), Russ Carnahan (D-MO), Henry Cuellar (D-TX), Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Lincoln Davis (D-TN), Phil English (R-PA), Wally Herger (R-CA), Tim Holden (D-PA), Henry C. "Hank" Johnson, Jr. (D-GA), Carolyn Kilpatrick (D-MI), John R. "Randy" Kuhl, Jr. (R-NY), Doug Lamborn (R-CO), Rick Larsen (D-WA), Harry Mitchell (D-AZ), Dennis Moore (D-KS), Mike Ross (D-AR), David Scott (D-GA), and John Shimkus (R-IL). There are three others who are not running for re-election. Another member of this group, Roger Wicker (R-MS), was appointed to the Senate and should be opposed as a Senatorial candidate.
The third group that should be opposed in the upcoming election consists of five House Members who went out of their way to counter the congressional resolution on the Armenian Genocide. They gave a joint press conference last October asking Speaker Nancy Pelosi not to bring this measure to the House floor for a vote. They are: Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman John Murtha (D-PA), Alcee Hastings (D-FL), John Tanner (D-TN), Robert Wexler, D-FL), and Steve Cohen (D-TN). The ANCA is actively working to defeat Cong. Cohen in the August 7 primary election and help elect his Democratic challenger Nikki Tinker, a supporter of Armenian issues. Cong. Cohen recently bragged that one of his "biggest accomplishments" in Congress was opposing the Armenian Genocide resolution. If Cong. Cohen loses on August 7, this would send a powerful message to all other House members that they too could be targeted for defeat, should they oppose the Armenian resolution! The ANC-PAC has contributed $5,000 to Tinker’s campaign and another $23,000 was raised on-line by more than 300 Armenian-Americans. There are only a few days left before the August 7 primary. To contribute to Tinker’s campaign, please go to: www.actblue.com/page/armeniansfornikki.
In addition, I would like to single out the following congressional races that merit special attention:
Cong. Jane Harman (D-CA) is a unique case. While keeping her name on the list of co-sponsors of the Armenian Genocide resolution, she deviously wrote a secret letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, asking her not to schedule the measure for a vote. Armenian-Americans should do everything possible to prevent the re-election of this dishonest legislator. Another House member who should be targeted for defeat is Cong. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), a genocide denialist and a leading pro-Turkish voice in the House of Representatives, who constantly refers to her Turkish son-in-law, Mustafa Ozdemir, in her remarks.
In Ohio, Independent candidate David Krikorian is trying to unseat Republican incumbent Jean Schmidt who has been supported by Turkish-Americans nationwide for her opposition to the Armenian Genocide resolution. Let’s kill two birds with one stone: Help elect a young and energetic Armenian-American to Congress, while defeating an incumbent genocide denialist. To contribute, please go to: www.KrikorianforCongress.com. Should Krikorian get elected, he would be joining two other Armenian Americans House Members: Cong. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Jackie Speier (D-CA) who fully deserve the support of all Armenian-Americans in their re-election campaign.
Cong. Joe Knollenberg (R-MI), the co-chair of the Congressional Caucus for Armenian Issues, has been a staunch supporter of the Armenian community for the past 16 years. He is targeted for defeat by the Democratic Party. We should do everything in our power to save his seat. Cong. Knollenberg will be coming to Los Angeles at the end of August to raise much-needed funds for his re-election. I suggest that as many Armenians as possible, regardless of party affiliation, attend the fundraiser and contribute to his campaign. Armenian-Americans should also support the other co-chair of the Armenian Caucus, Cong. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) as well as the main sponsors of the Armenian Genocide resolution: Adam Schiff (D CA), George Radanovich (R-CA), Brad Sherman (D-CA) and Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI). Armenians and their friends should give their strong backing to Speaker Pelosi (D-CA), the main driving force behind the Genocide resolution.
In order to take concrete action against those Members of Congress who have opposed the Armenian Genocide resolution, Armenian-Americans should demonstrate in front of their offices, hold protests at their fundraisers and press conferences, write critical articles, place negative ads, and support their opponents in the upcoming election.
Realizing that incumbents have a high likelihood of getting re-elected, should the Armenian-American community succeed in defeating even a single anti-Armenian member of Congress, the message will go out loud and clear throughout the halls of Congress that deniers of the Armenian Genocide risk losing their jobs. We need to make an example of at least one of these political scoundrels, so others will not dare to deny the Genocide, knowing that they would be paying a heavy price.