LOS ANGELES, CA – The Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region (ANCA-WR) welcomed Charles Mahtesian, Editor of the Almanac of American Politics, at an ANCA Town Hall meeting this past Saturday at the historic Tom Bradley room atop Los Angeles City Hall. In attendance were a broad cross section of ANCA supporters and activists from across southern California, including many young professionals interested in learning more about the public policy environment in Washington, DC.
“Educating Armenian Americans on public policy issues is a vital component of the ANCA’s core mission to empower the community,” remarked ANCA-WR Board member Zanku Armenian. “Our event today with Charles Mahtesian provided a genuine political education for those present. Few people in America understand the politics of Congress better than Charles Mahtesian, and we were fortunate to have him share his insight with us,” Armenian added.
At the ANCA Town Hall meeting Mahtesian spoke to his audience about a number of political issues ranging from the Democratic majority in both the House of Representatives and Senate to an analysis of the various candidates jockeying for power in the 2008 Presidential Election. With the election of fifty-five new members to the House of Representatives, forty-two of which are Democrats, Mahtesian noted that there has been a decisive reversal of the “Republican Revolution” that began in 1994. With the new Democratic majority in Congress and San Francisco Bay area representative Nancy Pelosi as House Speaker, Mahtesian observed that this shift in power will result in a louder voice for the Armenian-American community. He observed that the shift in power in Congress, from Texas-based politicians to those hailing from California, may play a significant role in the fate of the Armenian Genocide resolution pending before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Mahtesian speculated that the Republican minority may find it difficult to regain a majority in Congress in the near future, thereby allowing Democrats to further strengthen and solidify their political gains. He also noted that the Democrat’s strength in Congress could be further bolstered by the fact a good number of Republican House members and Senators are older and may opt for early retirement rather than face the frustration they will experience as members of the minority party. In addition to this frustration, Mahtesian pointed out that 21 Republican Senators will be up for reelection in 2008, as opposed to only 12 Democratic Senators, making the open seats more available to Democrats. Even with these built-in advantages for Democrats in Congress, Mahtesian assured attendees at the ANCA Town Hall meeting that Republicans were capable of bouncing back to power.
The final issue that Mahtesian addressed was the possibility of moving up the schedule of the Presidential Primary in the State of California. Moving the California Presidential Primary from June to February, as Governor Schwarzenegger would like to do, would dramatically increase the importance of the state in selecting the presidential nominees from both parties. This new date would also mean that candidates will become more sensitive to Armenian issues because California is home to an enormous number of Armenian American voters.
During the question-answer period after his presentation, audience members were given the opportunity to ask Mahtesian about the issues he addressed as well as the current status of the Genocide resolution (H.RES.106). Mahtesian greatly enjoyed his visit to Los Angeles, and looks forward to visiting the region again in the near future. “I find the dynamism and energy of the ANCA-WR to be really remarkable,” commented Mahtesian following the event. “It’s that kind of passion and energy that gets things accomplished in American politics.”
In addition to his position as editor of the Almanac of American Politics which is commonly referred to as “the bible of American politics,” Charles Mahtesian currently writes a monthly column on politics for Government Executive magazine and is a contributing writer and editor at National Journal magazine. Mahtesian has written for a variety of newspapers, journals and magazines including The Weekly Standard and Congress Daily, served as an election night analyst for National Public Radio and appeared on numerous radio and television programs including NPR’s All Things Considered, C-Span’s Washington Journal, and on CNN and the BBC.
Armenian National Committee of America is the largest and most influential Armenian American grassroots political organization. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout the United States and affiliated organizations around the world, the ANCA actively advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.
PHOTO CAPTION: Charlie Mahtesian joins members of the ANCA-WR Board and Staff after his lecture at Saturday’s Town Hall Meeting.