RALEIGH, NC – Reports that Elizabeth Dole is “seriously considering” running for the U.S. Senate were welcomed here this week by the Armenian National Committee of North Carolina and the Tar Heel state’s growing Armenian community.
“We are extremely pleased to learn of our friend Elizabeth Dole’s interest in representing our state in the United States Senate,” said ANC-North Carolina spokesperson Aram Sarafian. “The increasingly vibrant Armenian communities in Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill look forward to working with her campaign to help educate North Carolina voters about her tremendous track record as a strong leader and a principled advocate on foreign policy and human rights issues.”
Elizabeth Dole and her husband, former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole (R-KS), have both been leading advocates on issues of concern to Armenian Americans. Mrs. Dole, a native of Salisbury, North Carolina, served in the cabinets of presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush and headed the American Red Cross. She made an unsuccessful bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 2000. Both she and her husband traveled to Armenian following the devastating December 1988 earthquake to personally survey the damage and help organize relief efforts.
Bob Dole, during his tenure in the Senate and during his 1996 presidential campaign, championed a broad range of issues of concern to Armenian Americans, including securing recognition of the Armenian Genocide, providing foreign assistance to Armenia and Nagorno Karabagh, and pressing Turkey and Azerbaijan to lift their illegal blockades. He currently is administering over $165 million worth of economic development programs in Armenia being funded by Kirk Kerkorian’s Lincy Foundation. In May of this year, Sen. Dole spoke at the ANCA’s Armenian Genocide Observance on Capitol Hill and was awarded the organization’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
In an August 6th story titled, “Dole ‘Serious’ About Senate Race,” the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call reported that “Elizabeth Dole, said for the first time last week that she would ‘seriously consider’ a Senate race in North Carolina next year if [Senator Jesse] Helms retires.” According to Roll Call correspondent John Mercurio, “Republicans are quietly, and respectfully, preparing for the retirement of Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC), who reinforced suspicions that he will step down in 2002 by raising little money – and banking even less – during the first six months of 2001.”
Through a spokeswoman, Roll Call has reported that Dole, who has remained silent about private talks she is having with National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Bill Frist (R-TN), said last Thursday that Helms’ retirement would indeed prompt her to explore a 2002 Senate bid in her native North Carolina. “I have great respect for Jesse Helms, and I do hope that he runs again,” Dole said through spokeswoman Gia Colombraro. “But if he decides not to, I will give it serious consideration.”
The Washington Post has reported that, “Helms, slowed in recent years by illnesses, has said he will decide in September whether to seek a sixth term in 2002. Republican officials, eager to show deference to their party veteran, insist they’ll make no official overtures to other potential GOP candidates unless and until Helms steps aside. Aside from Dole, names often mentioned include Reps. Richard Burr of Winston-Salem and Robin Hayes of Concord.”
Jesse Helms, a five-term Senator who turns 80 in October, has a mixed record on Armenian American issues. In 1990 he voted for Senator Dole’s Armenian Genocide Resolution and later backed legislation, such as the Humanitarian Aid Corridor Act, to press Turkey to lift its blockade of Armenia. In recent years, however, he has opposed a number of legislative initiatives supported by the Armenian American community, including the Section 907 restriction on certain types of U.S. assistance to the government of Azerbaijan. In June of 1999, he cast a vote against the McConnell-Abraham Amendment to preserve this provision of law.
For the complete Roll Call article, visit their website at: