By Taniel Koushakjian
FLArmenians Managing Editor
Florida Armenians is pleased to announce our endorsements for the 2014 elections. The endorsement list below is categorized by federal, state, and county races. Overall, Florida Armenians has endorsed 25 Republicans and 13 Democrats in a variety of races, including some challengers.
Champions of Armenian issues in Florida include Congressman Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), who was recently named Vice Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues. In the Florida State Senate, Florida Armenians enthusiastically support Senator Jack Latvala (R-Pinellas), who introduced and managed the successful passage of the first Armenian Genocide resolution in the Florida State Senate in 2013.
Noticeably absent from our endorsement list is a candidate for Florida Governor. Unfortunately, neither current Governor Rick Scott (R-FL) nor former Governor Charlie Crist (D-FL) was proactive on Armenian issues during their administration. In addition, both candidates refrained from issuing statements to the Florida Armenian community.
Also, Florida Armenians would like to highlight Garo Artinian, who is running for Northern Palm Beach County Improvement District Seat 2. Mr. Artinian is the only Armenian American on the ballot in Florida.
FLORIDA VOTER INFORMATION
To help give you an idea of what to expect on Election Day, here are links to sample ballots for Broward County, Miami-Dade County, Palm Beach County, and Pinellas County. Polls are open from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM. Florida has two time zones. As such, election results will be released at 8:00 PM EST. If you don’t know where to go, you can find your closest polling station online by entering your address at your local county government website. For more information about voting in Florida, click here.
FLORIDA ARMENIANS 2014 ELECTION ENDORSEMENTS
- District 1: Jeff Miller (R-FL)
- District 3: Ted Yoho (R-FL)
- District 5: Corrine Brown (D-FL)
- District 11: Rich Nugent (R-FL)
- District 12: Gus Bilirakis (R-FL)
- District 13: David Jolly (R-FL)
- District 14: Kathy Castor (D-FL)
- District 15: Dennis Ross (R-FL)
- District 21: Ted Deutch (D-FL)
- District 22: Lois Frankel (D-FL)
- District 24: Frederica Wilson (D-FL)
- District 25: Mario Diaz-Bolart (R-FL)
- District 26: Carlos Curbelo (R-FL)*
- Attorney General: Pam Bondi (R)
- Chief Financial Officer: Jeff Atwater (R)
- Commissioner of Agriculture: Adam Putnam (R)
- HD-64: James Grant (R-FL)
- HD-66: Chris Latvala (R-FL)*
- HD-68: Bill Young (R-FL)*
- HD-69: Kathleen Peters (D-FL)
- HD-70: Daryl Rouson (D-FL)
- HD-81: Kevin Rader (D-FL)
- HD-82: MaryLynn Magar (R-FL)
- HD-88: Bobby Powell (D-FL)
- HD-91: Irving Slosberg (D-FL)
- HD-92: Gwendolen Clarke-Reed (D-FL)
- HD-93: George Moraitis (R-FL)
- HD-95: Hazelle Rogers (D-FL)
- HD-96: Kristin Jacobs (D-FL)
- HD-103: Manny Diaz, Jr. (R-FL)
- HD-105: CarlosTrujillo (R-FL)
- HD-116: Jose Felix Diaz (R-FL)
- SD-20: Jack Latvala (R-FL)
- SD-22: Jeff Brandes (R-FL)
- SD-32: Joe Negron (R-FL)
- SD-36: Oscar Braynon II (D-FL)
- Palm Beach County Commission District 4: Steven L. Abrams
- Broward County Commission District 4: Chip LaMarca
- Northern Palm Beach County Improvement District 2: Garo Artinian
* Denotes challenger
By Taniel Koushakjian
FLArmenians Political Contributor
Armenian-Americans have what few ethnic groups enjoy: knowledgeable, skilled, and effective leadership in Washington, DC. The Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) and the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) are organized, principled and steadfast in protecting the rights of Armenian-Americans, developing a strong US-Armenia relationship, helping the people in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh achieve freedom and democracy, and overall successfully representing the community in the nations capital for over 40 years. When it comes to ethnic political organizations, the Assembly and the ANCA are models for other minorities in America.
Looking at the relationship of Armenian-American advocacy organizations with US Presidential campaigns, one must rely on the record of the ANCA, as the Assembly is an independent, non-profit organization that is not involved in electioneering or endorsing of political candidates at any level. Full disclosure: the author is a former employee of the Assembly.
On Monday, October 15, 2012 the ANCA, the largest partisan Armenian-American advocacy organization, reported that they would not be endorsing either Barack Obama or Mitt Romney for President of the United States. “While we remain open to constructive engagement with both campaigns, we have no plans at this time to issue an ANCA endorsement this Presidential election cycle,” stated Chairman Ken Hachikian. The statement goes on to read, “the ANCA holds that neither Presidential candidate has earned the formal support of the Armenian American community.”
Why would the ANCA announce withholding a US presidential endorsement 22 days away from such an important election? A review of the ANCA’s statements over the last four years and their track record in US presidential contests over the last 20 years sheds light.
As rightfully noted in their 2012 announcement, the ANCA whole-heartedly endorsed Senator Barack Obama in 2008. After President Obama failed to live up to his campaign pledge to recognize the Armenian Genocide as President, his nomination and subsequent recess appointment of Matthew Bryza to serve as US Ambassador to Azerbaijan, and the fact that neither President Obama nor Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have met with Armenian-American community leaders, the ANCA had very little political room to maneuver in this regard. Further boxing themselves into a corner, the ANCA publicly slammed President Obama for the aforementioned policies, publicly lambasted then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in 2010 for failing to bring the Armenian Genocide Resolution to the floor for a vote (to be fair, this response was more warranted in 2007), then privately blasted House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer in front of a crowd assembled to commemorate the Armenian Genocide on Capitol Hill. Out of natural self-interest and after having their endorsement of President Obama thrown by the wayside, it was politically impossible for the ANCA to endorse President Obama for re-election.
In addition, it was interesting to read in the same ANCA press release that they are withholding an endorsement of former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. An historical review of ANCA presidential endorsements over the last 20 years reveal that, when it comes to the race for the White House, only Democrats are worthy. Further analysis of the success rate of the ANCA’s presidential endorsements over the last 20 years, unfortunately, leaves much to be desired for the Armenian-American community; specifically, the two-time endorsement of Bill Clinton, who single-handedly blocked passage of the Armenian Genocide Resolution in his final year in office; John Kerry, who lost his challenge to Republican President George W. Bush, and Barack Obama, who pandered to the Armenian-American community above and beyond any of his predecessors. The ANCA withheld an endorsement in the 2000 presidential election as well.
However, what is most interesting is an omission from this years ANCA press release regarding Mitt Romney’s statements as Governor of Massachusetts. According to a February 2008 ANCA press release, Mitt Romney shared with them copies of his four Armenian Genocide proclamations during his time as Governor of Massachusetts. “While the first three statements during his four years in office properly described the Armenian Genocide as genocide, his fourth and final statement refrained from using the accurate terminology,” read the 2008 ANCA press release. Yet the October 15, 2012 press release goes on to state, “Mitt Romney…has no evident public record on Armenian issues from his four-year tenure as Governor or his two campaigns for the White House.” While it is true that Governor Romney has not issued a statement on Armenian-American issues in either of his campaigns for President, the ANCA’s 2012 statement withholding endorsement appears to be at odds with their own record.
Therefore, it can be concluded that the ANCA could not endorse President Obama for re-election and that the ANCA would not endorse Governor Romney for President of the United States.
Taniel Koushakjian is an independent political commentator for Florida Armenians. He received his bachelor’s degree in political science from Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida, and is currently enrolled at the George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management in Washington, D.C.