Berman and Sherman Battle for Armenian Vote At ANCA-WR Debate


Representatives Howard Bermen (left) and Brad Sherman during Saturday's ANCA-WR debate

ENCINO – At a debate organized by the Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region (ANCA-WR), Congressmen Howard Berman and Brad Sherman on Saturday battled each other for the Armenian-American vote in the San Fernando Valley. With the occasional fireworks, the congressmen held little back as they vied for the crucial swing vote a little over a month before Election Day on November 6.

More than 300 community members, many of them undecided voters, packed Avedissian Hall at Ferrahian Armenian School in Encino, California, on Saturday evening to hear the positions and proposals of the two well-respected congressmen pitted against each other in the most closely watched congressional race in the United States. The energetic debate, which became heated a number of times as the congressmen rebutted and refuted each other’s arguments, evinced the highly emotional, and oft-contentious, atmosphere of the race.

The debate featured as moderator Zanku Armenian, a columnist with the Glendale News-Press and public relations executive and, as panelists, Harut Sassounian, publisher of the California Courier newspaper and well-known columnist, and Ara Khachatourian, editor of Asbarez English and the immensely popular Asbarez Post and Asbarez.com.

Numerous topics were broached by the panelists including student fee increases in the California university system, recognition of the Armenian Genocide and Genocide-era insurance claims, appropriation of aid to Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) and its use, the extradition of convicted axe-murderer Ramil Safarov by the government of Hungary to
Azerbaijan, trade agreements between the United States and Armenia, and the condition of Armenians in Javakhk in the Republic of Georgia and aid to that region. Written questions were also taken from the audience.

Both candidates stressed the importance of leadership in realizing any of the issues discussed, regularly citing their own history of leadership over the years. While Sherman highlighted his lead in recent polls and his local-level endorsements, Berman pointed to his
seniority and long list of endorsements from Members of Congress. Both referenced their strong relationship with the ANCA and recognized its leading role in bringing Armenian-American issues to the fore in Washington and locally.

Although there was expected disagreement about who was better for the job and about approach, the congressmen generally agreed about the importance of the issues presented by the panelists and the need to have them addressed by the U.S. Congress.

Nora Hovsepian, co-chair of the ANCA-WR, aptly noted in her opening remarks the role the Armenian-American community is slated to play as a “swing vote” in the close race between the two incumbent congressmen.

“It is hard to overestimate the importance of this race to our community and, in turn, the importance of our community to this race,” said Hovsepian. “The participation of the congressmen, the outpouring of interest from our community, and the presence of national and local media were testament to the significance of both this race and to
ensuring that every voter is educated about the candidates and gets out to vote on Election Day – that’s why we organized this debate and that’s why we initiated the Hye Votes project.”

The ANCA-WR continues to encourage community members to register to vote and cast their ballots on Election Day, November 6, as part of its Hye Votes initiative which has already registered thousands of voters. More information can be found at www.hyevotes.org or by calling 818-533-8683.

Aired live on Horizon Armenian Television and online at horizonarmeniantv.com, a recording of the debate will be available online in the coming days at anca.org and facebook.com/ancagrassroots.

The Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region is the largest and most influential Armenian American grassroots advocacy organization in the Western United States. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout the Western United States and affiliated organizations around the country, the ANCA-WR advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.

4 Responses

for “Berman and Sherman Battle for Armenian Vote At ANCA-WR Debate”

  1. Tsoghig says:

    I am very sorry I missed watching this debate online. Thank you for this article and I am looking forward to seeing who the WR ANCA endorses.

    However I think the most valid and true line in this article is the following: “immensely popular Asbarez Post and Asbarez.com.” Asbarez is the best.

  2. Hovannes says:

    I’m glad the ANC-WR organized this debate. I watched the debate and it was very clear to me that Howard Berman had no good answer for why he is a part of the Turkish Caucus and why he continues to be a part of it even though one of their main reasons for existence is Armenian Genocide denial. He also did not address the issue of taking money from the Turkish Coalition PAC or letting his staffers take free travel to Turkey paid for by this organization.

  3. Vivian says:

    This article is leaving out one of the biggest highlights of the debate which was when Congressman Brad Sherman exposed Congressman Howard Berman for being a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It was shocking to learn that he has been taking money from the Turks for his campaign and has been on the Turkish Caucus for many years. It was definitely an eye-opening moment in the debate.

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