LOS ANGELES—The Armenian National Committee of America–Western Region on Tuesday announced its endorsement of Senator Anthony Portantino in his bid for Congress to succeed Rep. Adam Schiff in the 30th Congressional District of California.
Senator Portantino has been a stalwart ally of the Armenian-American community throughout his long political career. His leadership on Armenian-American issues has expanded and strengthened relations between the State of California, the Republic of Armenia, and the Republic of Artsakh, including his establishment of the Select Committee on California, Armenia and Artsakh Mutual Trade, Art and Cultural Exchange in 2017 and the California-Armenia Trade & Services Desk at Impact Hub Yerevan in 2021.
“Senator Portantino’s commitment to the Armenian-American Community is manifest in his unrelenting advocacy for Armenian issues,” said ANCA-WR Board Chair Nora Hovsepian, Esq.
“Senator Portantino has worked closely with the ANCA-WR for many years both as a State Assemblymember and then as State Senator, and we look forward to continuing our close partnership with him in Congress. We are confident that he will be the leading voice for Armenian-Americans in the United States Congress as he follows in the footsteps and example set by Congressman Adam Schiff. While we typically do not issue endorsements this early in a campaign, we make exceptions for candidates who have proven themselves to be champions of our Cause and leaders on our issues, as Senator Portantino most certainly has over a period of many years. We are therefore proud to stand with him from this early stage of the campaign,” added Hovsepian.
“I am extremely honored to receive the endorsement of the Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region. I have many long-standing friendships with ANCA members and grassroots activists, and I have been proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with my friends for human rights, Genocide recognition, condemning the violent Azeri attacks on Arstakh and supporting increased trade and cooperation between California and Armenia. I can think of no better way to begin my campaign to succeed Adam Schiff than with the support of the ANCA,” said Portantino.
“From my youth, I remember my mother speaking about Armenian orphans in the wake of the Genocide, and I was pleased to have developed friendships in California where I can utilize my mother’s lessons to make a positive difference for a vibrant community. I have been to Armenia and Artsakh four times, and I look forward to my continued support of Armenian American causes and greater community in Congress,” added Portantino.
Elected to the California State Senate in 2016, Portantino, formerly an Assemblymember, local Councilmember, and Mayor, has been a champion for the Armenian-American Community. Representing the largest Armenian-American population center in California in the 25th Senate District, the Senator’s constituency ranges from the Tri-Cities to the western outskirts of San Bernardino County.
The ANCA-WR recognized the Senator with the “Legislator of the Year Award” twice during its Annual Gala Banquets in 2011 and 2017.
In 2018, Senator Portantino and other state and local leaders visited Armenia as part of an ANCA-WR-led delegation focused on deepening economic ties between California and Armenia. He is the only elected official from the United States to have traveled to Artsakh after the 44-Day War in 2020.
As the Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Portantino’s advocacy has been critical for supporting and funding various Armenian-American institutions like the Armenian Relief Society and the Armenian-American Museum, which was allocated $10 million in Governor Newsom’s budget. During his Chairmanship of the Senate Budget Subcommittee on Education from 2018-2019, Senator Portantino successfully allocated $500,000 to California’s State Budget to fund state-wide curricula on the Armenian Genocide.
In 2021, the Senator spearheaded groundbreaking legislation ensuring that California Taxpayers no longer fund the Turkish Government and its continued denial of the Armenian Genocide. Senate Bill 457, introduced by Senators Anthony Portantino and Scott Wilk, allowed local agencies to divest from Turkey. The bill passed in the California Senate with overwhelming support. Due to mounting pressure from SB457 and a similar bill in the State Assembly, AB1019, California’s largest state-employee pension funds, CalPERS and CalSTRS, established executive directives to no longer invest in securities backed by the Turkish Government and substantially reduce any of their current holdings in Turkish state-backed funds.
Portantino became the first—and only—U.S. elected official to visit Artsakh after the devastating war. He traveled there in November, 2021 and toured areas destroyed by the Azerbaijani aggression, met with Artsakh officials, residents and visited the Caroline Cox Rehabilitation Center in Stepanakert.
“I was able to visit the frontlines during a tour of Taghavard village in the Martuni region, where I had the opportunity to witness the consequences of the unprovoked war. I was privileged to have met with local village leaders, soldiers and survivors of the war – the most resilient and strong people. Their pride and determination to live peacefully on their lands was both striking and emotional,” Portantinio said following his visit to Artsakh.
“This was by far the most emotional visit I’ve taken to Artsakh,” said Portantino at the time. “We know that the international community needs to act with humanitarian passion and dedicated support for the Armenian people who are facing a well-funded military with destructive intent.”
More recently, Senator Portantino and 21 other legislators from California’s Senate and Assembly authored a letter to President Biden regarding Azerbaijan’s ongoing blockade of Artsakh. The letter calls upon the Biden Administration:
- To condemn and call for the unconditional lifting of the blockade by Azerbaijan;
- To allocate humanitarian assistance to Artsakh;
- To halt all U.S. military aid to Azerbaijan under Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act;
- To sanction the Aliyev regime under the Global Magnitsky Act for violating International Humanitarian Law; and
- To introduce a resolution in the United Nations to establish a mission in Artsakh to ensure regional peace and security.
California’s 30th Congressional District is home to the largest concentration of Armenian-American constituents anywhere in the United States, including the communities of Glendale, Burbank, the Foothills, and Little Armenia.
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.