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Midterm Elections: The Greek-American Candidates in Federal, State Races

Midterm Elections: The Greek-American Candidates in Federal, State Races

With the midterm elections approaching, the Greek-American group is as soon as once more proving to be a serious participant within the political panorama of the USA. With candidates on the federal, state, and native degree within the November 6 polls, a Greek presence within the political map of the USA appears all however sure within the coming years.

This yr’s slate of candidates consists of quite a few incumbents who’re vying for re-election, some acquainted faces who’ve thrown their identify within the race for a brand new place, and a number of other potential newcomers.

Whatever the political social gathering the candidates characterize, a Greek-American presence in Washington and in essential positions throughout the USA ensures that the Hellenic group, and problems with significance to Greek-People and to Greece and Cyprus, could have a chance to be heard and to earn backing and help.

The problems

It’s extensively recognized that one of many cornerstones of the Greek-American group and one of many traits for which it’s best recognized, is its allegiance to household and custom. This consists of the shut ties many members of the group keep with their ancestral homeland and with the Greek Orthodox Church. Subsequently, it ought to come as no shock to any observer that Greek nationwide and geopolitical points, in addition to spiritual points, determine prominently amongst Greek-American voters and candidates alike.

One main space of focus is that of spiritual freedom. With the current controversy surrounding developments within the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, and with persecution of Greek Orthodox Christians an ongoing concern in Turkey, Syria, and elsewhere, the Greek-American group locations quite a lot of significance on issues pertaining to the protection of spiritual freedom and follow.

Moreover, a robust attachment to spiritual religion might information Greek-American voters to forged their poll for candidates who’re themselves Greek Orthodox, or who prioritize spiritual points of their political platforms.

Greek nationwide points are additionally on the forefront these days, however for a lot of within the Greek-American group, such points have all the time been a excessive precedence. The Macedonia identify dispute and persevering with controversy over the Prespa settlement, the continued Turkish occupation of over one-third of Cyprus, Turkish belligerence within the Aegean and East Mediterranean area, and up to date provocations from Albania are all points that are on the minds of many Greek-American voters and which Greek-American candidates on the federal degree, if elected, shall be anticipated to advertise and to prioritize.

All of that being stated, allow us to check out this yr’s recognized lineup of Greek-American candidates on the congressional, state, and native degree.

United States Senate

Leah Papachristou Vukmir (photograph credit score: leahvukmir.com)

It has been over 5 years since a Greek-American held a seat within the Senate. Leah Papachristou Vukmir hopes to vary that. A Republican operating for Senate from Wisconsin, Vukmir is a daughter of Greek immigrants and, based on her bio, was raised in “a real-life massive, fats Greek household.” She is a member of the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Wauwatosa, the group the place she has lived for over 30 years, and is a nurse and army mother.

Vukmir describes herself as a “daring conservative” and her political trajectory as “mom-with-a-cause to state senator.” From an early begin as an advocate for higher schooling, she went on to carry elected workplace in Wisconsin, initially within the state Meeting and now within the state Senate, representing Wisconsin’s fifth district. Vukmir emerged from a area of 5 challengers within the Republican main earlier this yr, with 48.9 % of the vote.

Extra details about her marketing campaign is obtainable at www.LeahVukmir.com.

United States Home of Representatives

U.S. Consultant Gus Bilirakis (R-FL)

In contrast to the Senate, there was an ongoing Greek presence within the U.S. Home of Representatives. Within the present election cycle, 4 Greek-American candidates are up for election, along with two potential new entrants.

Republican Gus Bilirakis has represented Florida’s 12th congressional district, which encompasses New Port Richey and areas north of Tampa, since 2007. Himself a Florida native, Bilirakis is the grandson of Greek immigrants and was raised within the closely Greek group of Tarpon Springs.

A training lawyer, Bilirakis served for eight years within the Florida Home of Representatives, representing District 48. Throughout his tenure, he was a member of the Congressional Hellenic-Israeli Alliance.

In 2006, following the retirement of his father, Michael Bilirakis, from the U.S. Home of Representatives—and a seat that he had held for 24 years—Bilirakis entered the race and was efficiently capable of proceed his household’s legacy. Bilirakis has made a reputation for himself as being a very lively member of Congress, serving on the Power and Commerce Committee and as Vice-Chairman of the Home Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

As well as, Bilirakis can also be a member of the Republican Celebration’s Whip group, the Republican Research Committee, the Congressional NextGen 9-1-1 Caucus, is a rating member on the Home Committee on Homeland Safety’s Subcommittee on Administration, Investigations, and Oversight. Bilirakis can also be Chair of the Veterans’ Affairs Activity Pressure for the Republican Coverage Committee, serves as a Co-Chair of the Congressional Army Veterans Caucus.

Of significance to the Greek-American group, Bilirakis can also be a number one member of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Points. Extra details about Bilirakis and his marketing campaign is out there at www.BilirakisForCongress.com.

U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL)

Additionally from Florida, Charlie Crist, representing the state’s 13th congressional district, which incorporates the cities of St. Petersburg and Clearwater, is up for re-election. Crist, whose household identify is derived from “Christodoulou” and whose father is partly of Greek Cypriot descent, was born in Pennsylvania however raised in Florida.

Initially a Republican, his political involvement started with an unsuccessful marketing campaign for a state Senate seat in 1986, previous to being elected to the state Senate seat for the 20th District in 1992. A meteoric rise in politics adopted, with Crist elected as Florida Lawyer Common in 2002 and as Florida Governor in 2006, serving till 2011 and narrowly dropping a brand new bid for the governorship in 2013. Crist turned a Democrat in 2012.

In Congress, Crist is a member of the Home Committee on Monetary Providers and the Home Committee on Science, Area and Know-how. He’s additionally a member of the New Democrat Coalition, the Blue Canine Coalition, and the Local weather Options Caucus. Extra particulars about Crist’s marketing campaign may be discovered at www.charliecrist.com.

U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD)

One other Greek-American candidate up for re-election is John Sarbanes, a Democrat who’s the U.S. Consultant for Maryland’s third congressional district, which incorporates elements of Baltimore in addition to the state capital, Annapolis.

Of Greek descent from his father’s aspect, Sarbanes adopted an identical path as Bilirakis, as his father Paul Sarbanes (who later went on to an extended profession within the U.S. Senate) as soon as represented the identical congressional district which his son holds right now. And like Bilirakis, Sarbanes has served within the Home of Representatives since 2007.

Sarbanes presently serves on the Home Committee on Power and Commerce, the Subcommittee on Well being, is Co-Chair of the Congressional Public Service Caucus, and a member of america Congressional Worldwide Conservation Caucus, the Joint Congressional Human Rights Caucus, the Congressional Arts Caucus, the Congressional NextGen 9-1-1 Caucus, and the Pakistan Caucus.

Of specific curiosity to the Greek-American group and its allies, Sarbanes is a member of the Home Congressional Hellenic Caucus, in addition to the Armenian Caucus. Extra details about Sarbanes and his marketing campaign could be discovered at www.johnsarbanes.com.

U.S. Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV)

In Nevada, Congresswoman Dina Titus, initially born in Georgia to oldsters of Greek descent and a household with a political background, has represented the state’s 1st Congressional District since 2013. The district consists of a lot of Las Vegas. Titus has an in depth political previous, having beforehand represented Nevada’s third Congressional District within the U.S. Home of Representatives between 2009 and 2011, and previous to that, serving within the Nevada Senate between 1993 and 2009, representing the Clark seventh District. Within the state Senate, she rose to develop into the physique’s minority chief.

Titus has additionally loved an extended profession as a tutorial. After getting her begin at North Texas State College, she went on to show political science programs in American and Nevada authorities on the College of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) for 30 years. Titus based and continues to coordinate UNLV’s Legislative Internship Program.

Of observe for the Greek-American group, Titus is a member of the Committee on Overseas Affairs and the Congressional Hellenic Caucus. She can also be a member of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, the Congressional Arts Caucus, and the USA Congressional Worldwide Conservation Caucus. Extra details about Titus’ marketing campaign is out there at www.dinatitus.com.

Michael Waltz

Along with the aforementioned incumbents, two Greek-American potential newcomers are vying for a spot within the Home. Michael Waltz is trying to turn out to be the third member of the Home from Florida that’s of Greek-American descent. Operating as a Republican in Florida’s sixth district, which incorporates Daytona Seashore, Waltz is a fight adorned Inexperienced Beret who served for 21 years within the U.S. Military, reaching the rank of Lt. Colonel and having served a number of fight excursions to Afghanistan. Waltz has been awarded 4 bronze stars for his army service, together with two for valor.

Waltz has additionally served within the Pentagon, as a protection coverage director for Secretaries of Protection Donald Rumsfeld and Robert Gates, earlier than serving within the George W. Bush White Home as Vice President Dick Cheney’s counter-terrorism advisor. Additional particulars about his marketing campaign may be discovered at www.michaelwaltz.com.

Chris Pappas, member of New Hampshire’s Government Council

Democrat Chris Pappas can also be vying for a seat within the U.S. Home of Representatives, operating in New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District, which incorporates Larger Manchester, considered probably the most aggressive electoral districts in the USA. Certainly, Pappas emerged out of a area of 11 contenders on this yr’s main, together with Levi Sanders, son of former U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

Of Greek descent by way of his paternal great-grandfather, Pappas entered political workplace in 2002 after being elected to the New Hampshire Home of Representatives, the place he served two phrases. He then was elected to 2 phrases as Hillsborough County treasurer, and has been elected three consecutive occasions to the New Hampshire Government Council, most lately in 2016. Extra details about Pappas’ marketing campaign is out there at www.chrispappas.org.

Lastly, it must be famous that Congresswoman Niki Tsongas, representing Massachusetts within the Home since 2007, won’t be operating for re-election. She is Greek by way of her marriage to the late Paul Tsongas, a former presidential candidate with an extended profession representing Massachusetts in each chambers of Congress.

State and native races

Lastly, a lot of Greek-American candidates are collaborating in state and native races nationwide. Right here’s the state-by-state breakdown:


Eleni Kounalakis Tsakopoulos

Within the largest state in the USA, Greek-American Eleni Tsakopoulos Kounalakis is a candidate for Lieutenant Governor. Operating as a Democrat, she would turn out to be the primary feminine Lieutenant Governor in state historical past if elected. She has beforehand served as the previous U.S. Ambassador to Hungary, having been appointed by President Barack Obama. Extra particulars about her marketing campaign could be discovered at www.eleniforca.com.

Konstantinos Roditis

Additionally in California, Greek-American Konstantinos Roditis, a Republican, is operating for State Controller. Stemming from a enterprise background, Roditis served as Anaheim Metropolis Commissioner between 2011 and 2017. Extra details about his marketing campaign is on the market at www.roditisforcontroller.com.

Eleni Kavros McGraw


Democrat Eleni Kavros DeGraw is operating for State Home District 17, which encompasses Canton and most of Avon. She is looking for to enter elected workplace for the primary time. Extra details about her candidacy is obtainable at www.teameleni.com.

Susan Bysiewicz

Additionally in Connecticut, Democrat Susan Bysiewicz is campaigning for Lieutenant Governor. Having an in depth political background, Bysiewicz beforehand was elected to 3 phrases within the Connecticut Home of Representatives, representing the state’s 100th Meeting District between 1993 and 1999. She later served three phrases as Connecticut Secretary of State, between 1999 and 2011. Bysiewicz ran an unsuccessful marketing campaign for the U.S. Senate in 2012, and initially introduced her intent to run for Governor of Connecticut this yr, earlier than opting to run for Lieutenant Governor. Extra particulars about Bysiewicz may be discovered at www.susanforct.com.

Kathy Kramedas McGuiness


Democrat Kathy Kramedas McGuiness is operating for Delaware State Auditor. If elected, she is going to turn into the primary Greek-American lady elected to statewide workplace in Delaware. Beforehand, she has served as Rehoboth Seashore Commissioner for almost 20 years. Extra particulars can be found at www.votemcguiness.com.


Prepare dinner County Treasurer Maria Pappas

The granddaughter of immigrants from Crete, Maria Pappas has held the publish of Prepare dinner County Treasurer for 20 years. Prepare dinner County is, in fact, residence to Chicago—and one of many largest economies on the earth. This yr, Pappas is vying for a fifth time period. Beforehand, Pappas served as Prepare dinner County Commissioner for eight years. Additional details about her marketing campaign is obtainable at www.mariapappas.internet.

Erika Harold

Additionally in Illinois, Erika Harold is the Republican nominee for State Lawyer Basic. A lawyer by career, that is her second try and be elected to public workplace, after an unsuccessful marketing campaign for the U.S. Home of Representatives in 2014, representing the 13th Congressional District seat. Extra details about her marketing campaign is accessible at www.erikaharold.com.

New York:

New York State Senator Mike Gianaris

Greek-American political exercise is especially robust in New York State. State Senator Mike Gianaris, a Democrat, is the primary Greek-American to be elected to workplace from New York Metropolis and the second Greek-American to be elected to the State Senate. He’s operating for re-election in Senate District 12, which incorporates the traditionally Greek neighborhood of Astoria. Elected to the State Senate in 2010, Gianaris beforehand served within the New York State Meeting for 10 years, representing the 36th District. Extra particulars concerning the Gianaris marketing campaign might be discovered at www.mikegianaris.com.

Andrew Gounardes

Aiming to hitch Gianaris within the New York State Senate is first-timer Andrew Gounardes, operating as a Democrat in Senate District 22. This district consists of the neighborhood of Bay Ridge, residence to a considerable Greek group and the world the place Gournardes was raised. Extra details about his candidacy is obtainable at www.andrewgounardes.com.

James Skoufis

One other first-timer vying for a seat within the State Senate is Democrat James Skoufis. The son of a Greek immigrant, Skoufis has been elected to 3 phrases within the State Meeting, representing the 99th District, and is now a candidate for the 39th District of the State Senate, in Orange County. Additional particulars can be found at www.skoufisforny.com.

New York State Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis

Within the New York State Meeting, two Greek-People are campaigning for re-election. Republican Nicole Malliotakis has represented the 64th Meeting District, encompassing elements of Staten Island and Brooklyn, in 2010 and has been re-elected 3 times. She additionally unsuccessfully ran for mayor of New York Metropolis in 2017. Extra particulars about Malliotakis might be discovered at www.nicolemalliotakis.com.

New York State Assemblywoman Arabella Simotas

Democrat Aravella Simotas presently represents the 36th Meeting District as soon as held by Mike Gianaris; a district which incorporates the closely Greek areas of Astoria and Lengthy Island Metropolis. Like Malliotakis, Simotas was first elected to workplace in 2010 and has been constantly re-elected since then. Extra particulars may be discovered on her Fb web page, www.fb.com/SimotasNY/.

Nomiki Konst

Lastly, Greek-American Nomiki Konst is operating for the place of Public Advocate of New York Metropolis, a place distinctive inside American politics. Extra details about her marketing campaign is on the market at www.nomikikonst.com.


Jim Trakas

A second-generation Greek-American, Jim Trakas is a Republican with an in depth background in politics. Starting in 1991, Trakas served two phrases on the Independence, Ohio Metropolis Council, and in 1998 he was elected to the Ohio Home of Representatives, representing the 15th and later the 17th District. His tenure included two phrases as Home Majority Whip. In 2008, he ran an unsuccessful marketing campaign for the U.S. Home of Representatives in Ohio’s 10th congressional district. Trakas is now operating for the sixth District of the Ohio Home of Representatives, encompassing elements of suburban Cleveland. Extra particulars can be found at www.jimtrakas.com.

Zack Area

Additionally in Ohio, Democrat Zack Area is operating for State Auditor, who previously served as U.S. Consultant for Ohio’s 18th District, representing a big swath of Southeastern Ohio, between 2007 and 2011. Additional particulars about his marketing campaign can be found at www.zackspaceforohio.com.

Rhode Island:

Rhode Island State Senator Leonidas Raptakis

Democrat Leonidas Raptakis is a State Senator in Rhode Island, representing District 33, which encompasses East Greenwich. Raptakis has an extended political previous, serving within the Rhode Island Home of Representatives, representing District 31, for 2 phrases between 1992 and 1996, and serving a number of non-consecutive phrases in Rhode Island State Senate Districts 20 and 33 since 1997. Raptakis can also be a member of the World Hellenic Inter-Parliamentary Group. Extra details about him might be discovered at www.leoraptakis.com.

(Mike Manatos contributed to this report)


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