CINCINNATI, OH – Armenian American Congressional Candidate David Krikorian – a staunch advocate of first amendment speech and an outspoken opponent of genocide denial – garnered 38% of the Democratic primary vote in Ohio’s second district – succumbing to baseless attacks by Republican incumbent Rep. Jean Schmidt and Democratic opponents, levied just days prior to the primary vote, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA.)
“David’s commitment to running a positive, grassroots campaign reflecting the views and values of Ohio’s 2nd Congressional district were met with incumbent Armenian Genocide denier – Rep. Jean Schmidt’s false accusations and political scheming – designed to knock out her toughest Democratic opponent from the November general elections,” said ANCA Eastern Region Chairman, Steve Mesrobian. “Local Democratic Party leaders followed Schmidt’s disinformation campaign in lockstep and in the process did a grave disservice to Ohio 2nd district voters.”
A successful businessman and grassroots activist, Krikorian ran as an independent against Rep. Schmidt in the 2008 Congressional elections, garnering 18% of the general election vote – the highest percentage of any independent running in a Congressional race that year. In 2010, Krikorian was the front-runner in the May 4th Democratic primary – until days prior to the vote when baseless allegations surfaced that the candidate had made inappropriate references to opponent Surya Yalamanchili’s name. Rep. Schmidt jumped into the fray, issuing a letter to Krikorian regarding the fabricated story, leaked to the media, and accepted at face value by several local Democratic Party chairs. Despite Krikorian’s efforts to set the record straight, Yalamanchili won the primary by a mere 700 votes.
“Now I understand that political campaigns sometimes get nasty, but what these individuals did represents everything that is wrong in our political system today. You see, it’s not about ideas or character; it’s about attacks and money, greed and power. It’s about winning at all costs, regardless of the consequences or of the reputations that are damaged or destroyed…” Krikorian wrote in a letter to voters regarding the allegations.
Rep. Schmidt, a perennial darling of the Turkish lobby for her opposition to Congressional legislation affirming the Armenian Genocide, has consistently targeted Krikorian – most notably bringing charges before the Ohio Election Commission in 2009 to cover up references to Turkish American campaign contributions ostensibly submitted in return for her denial of the Armenian Genocide. After a prolonged legal battle where Schmidt was assisted by the Turkish Coalition of America’s Bruce Fein and David Saltzman, the Commission dropped a number of charges then issued a split decision.
Chairman of the Armenian National Committee of Ohio prior to his electoral bid, Krikorian played a key role in educating state legislators about the Armenian Genocide and the worldwide campaign to end the cycle of genocide. Joining with Armenian American and anti-genocide advocates across the state, Krikorian reached out to Governor Ted Strickland, whose 2007 April 24th proclamation made Ohio the 40th state to recognize the Armenian Genocide. A September 2007 screening of the documentary “Screamers” at Cincinnati’s Freedom Center was organized by Krikorian and called needed attention to the ongoing genocide in Darfur and Turkey’s international campaign of Armenian Genocide denial.