The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) said over 90 percent of candidates endorsed by it have been elected or reelected to the House of Representatives and the Senate.
“We join with Armenian Americans from across the country in congratulating the winners of these elections from both parties, and look forward to working constructively with the new members and leaders of Congress,” the ANCA’s executive director, Aram Hamparian, said in a statement issued hours after the closure of the polls.
The Armenian Assembly of America, the other major lobby group, emphasized the fact that most of the more than 150 House members aligned in the congressional Armenian Caucus won reelection. “We congratulate the Armenian Caucus members who were re-elected to serve another term in Congress and look forward to expanding the Caucus,” Bianka Dodov, an Assembly representative, said on Wednesday.
Unlike the ANCA, the Assembly is not allowed to openly endorse election candidates because of its tax-free status.
The ANCA had urged its members and supporters to vote for 158 Democratic and Republican candidates (152 of them incumbents) across the U.S running for the House and sympathetic to Armenian-American causes such official U.S. recognition of the 1915 Armenian genocide. Only seven of them lost their seats, while six other, non-incumbent candidates backed by the ANCA prevailed in hard-fought races in other districts.
The ANCA singled out Republican Michael Grimm’s victory in the state of New York over a Democratic congressman opposed to a draft congressional resolution describing the 1915 Armenian massacres in Ottoman Turkey as genocide. It also welcomed the defeat of at least three other Democratic incumbents who “have worked against Armenian American priorities.”
Also victorious were five out of six pro-Armenian Senate members endorsed by the ANCA. Those include Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and fellow Democrat Barbara Boxer, a fact also emphasized by the Assembly.
Boxer appears to have boosted her popularity among ethnic Armenian voters in California by blocking recently the congressional confirmation of Matthew Bryza, President Barack Obama’s pick for U.S. ambassador to Azerbaijan. The ANCA has been strongly opposed to Bryza’s appointment, accusing the career diplomat of pro-Azerbaijani bias in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Another pro-Armenian candidate, Republican Mark Kirk, was elected to the Senate from Illinois, filling the seat once held by Obama. “The only ANCA backed Senate candidate to lose was Russ Feingold (D-WI), a perennial co-sponsor of Armenian Genocide legislation,” said the ANCA statement.
The ANCA and the Armenian Assembly did not comment on possible implications of Republican control over the House for their key objective: the passage of the genocide resolution. The House Foreign Affairs Committee narrowly approved it in March. Virtually all of the committee members that voted against it were Republicans.
The Assembly noted only that Eric Cantor, the presumptive new House majority leader, and two other senior Republicans are co-sponsors of the resolution. The ANCA likewise referred to them as “key winners.”
The Armenian-American lobby has failed to push the resolution, tacitly opposed by the Obama administration, through the full House so far, despite having key longtime allies in outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other ranking Democrats. It is expected to make another push for genocide recognition before the newly elected House convenes for its first session in January.
“With the new changes in store for the 112th Congress, now more than ever, our grassroots outreach will be critical,” said Taniel Koushakjian, the Assembly’s grassroots director.