Hellenism and Orthodoxy in the 2018 Elections – The Candidates
by Andy Manatos and Mike Manatos*
The 2018 elections may profoundly impact Hellenism and Orthodoxy in America.
When the unsurpassed advocate for Hellenism and Orthodoxy in the US government, Senator Paul Sarbanes, was asked at the end of his 36-year career in the US Congress, “What will happen to our issues when you leave Washington?” he responded, “make sure Bob Menendez is elected.” His answer had nothing to do with partisanship and everything to do with our issues. Our issues would stand to lose more than 50% of their Washington support if Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) were to lose his re-election to the US Senate. If re-elected, he will become the Chairman or remain the Ranking Minority Member of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee. In terms of ethics and intelligence, he ranks among the top of the hundreds of US Senators and Members that we have known in our family’s half-century of working closely with the Congress. Yet, the residue of a baseless, rogue Justice Department prosecution from which he was completely exonerated has injured Bob’s image and will cost him votes. We must help him help us. To learn more about his campaign and to support him, go to: www.MenendezForNJ.com
It has been over a half-decade since we have had a Greek-American in the US Senate. Hopefully, this will change in November. Following in the footsteps of Senators Paul Sarbanes, Paul Tsongas and Olympia Snowe could be Wisconsin Republican Senatorial nominee Leah Papachristou Vukmir. She is 100% Greek in her heritage as well as her Hellenism and Orthodoxy and is sure to make us all proud. We are looking to put together a group of successful Hellenic women – Republicans, Independents and Democrats — in New York City to help Leah get elected. To learn more about her campaign and help her, go to: www.LeahVukmir.com
Continuing at the federal level, Congressman Gus Bilirakis, one of Capitol Hill’s top most proactive people on our issues, while expected to be re-elected, is in for a more difficult than usual challenge this year. History has shown that the first election following a President’s election finds his party losing 27 House Members from his party. And, when such Presidents have approval ratings under 50%, as President Donald Trump has today, their party loses an average of 37 House seats. The Democrats need 24 Republicans to lose their seats to gain control of the House. To learn more about Gus’ campaign and support him, go to www.BilirakisForCongress.com
The other Hellenic Members of Congress, Congressman John Sarbanes (www.johnsarbanes.com) Congresswoman Dina Titus (www.DinaTitus.com) and Congressman Charlie Crist, (www.CharlieCrist.com) are Democrats and their seats should be secure. Unfortunately, Hellene by marriage, Congresswoman Niki Tsongas, a great supporter of our issues, is retiring.
However, we may be adding not one, but two Greek-Americans – one Democrat and one Republican – to the US House of Representatives. First, there is Hellenic Harvard graduate, restaurateur and state government official, Chris Pappas of New Hampshire. Chris won the Democratic primary election in a crowded field and is favored to win the general election for New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional district. To learn more about and support his campaign, go to: www.chrispappas.org. Second, there is combat decorated Green Beret, former Fox News contributor who served in the White House and Pentagon during the Bush Administration, Michael Waltz. He currently leads in the polls in the race to win the Florida’s 6th Congressional district. To learn more about and support his campaign, go to www.michaelwaltz.com
At the state level, prospects look very good that the next Lieutenant Governor of California, the state whose economy is larger than 190 countries, will be former US Ambassador to Hungary Eleni Tsakopoulos Kounalakis. She would be the first female California Lieutenant Governor in history. If she wins, many anticipate that Eleni will follow the example of previous Lieutenant Governors of California and move on to even higher positions like Governor or Senator. To learn more about and support her campaign, go to www.eleniforca.com
Other Greek-Americans running for state-wide office for the first time, of whom we’ve been made aware, include: in Ohio, former Congressman Zack Space – who was a tremendous advocate for Hellenism and Orthodoxy when he served in the US Congress from 2007-2011 – is running for Ohio Auditor (www.zackspaceforohio.com); in Delaware, Kathy Kramedas McGuiness, who is running for Delaware Auditor, would become the first Greek-American woman elected to state-wide office in Delaware (www.votemcguiness.com); in Connecticut, former State Representative and Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz is running for Lieutenant Governor (www.susanforct.com); in Illinois, Erika Harold is running for Illinois Attorney General (www.erikaharold.com); and in California Konstantinos Roditis is running for State Controller (www.roditisforcontroller.com).
Those running for State Senate and House offices that have the most active profiles in the national Greek-American community include: In New York, first time candidate Andrew Gounardes for New York State Senate: (www.andrewgounardes.com); New York State Senator, Chair of the Democratic Conference and the first Greek-American to be elected to office from New York City, Mike Gianaris (www.mikegianaris.com); in the New York State Assembly Nicole Malliotakis (www.nicolemalliotakis.com); Aravella Simotas (www.assembly.state.ny.us/mem/Aravella-Simotas); James Skoufis (www.skoufisforny.com); in Rhode Island, State Senator Leonidas Raptakis (www.leoraptakis.com); in Ohio, former Ohio State Representative and candidate for Ohio State Senate Jim Trakas (www.jimtrakas.com); in Illinois, the 20 year Treasures of Cook County, the world’s 16th largest government, Maria Pappas (www.mariapappas.net); and in Connecticut Eleni Kavros DeGraw is running for State Representative (www.teameleni.com).
Unfortunately, a number of promising Greek-American candidates lost in their run for office in their state’s primary. Those candidates of whom we were made aware included: Demetries Grimes who ran for US Congress in Florida’s 26th district (www.grimesforcongress.com); Sam Galeotos who ran for Governor of Wyoming; Alex Triantaphyllis who ran for US Congress representing Texas’ 7th Congressional district. In addition, Nicole Malliotakis who was the Republican nominee for Mayor of New York City in the 2017 election, was unsuccessful in her bid…this time.
*Andy Manatos is former Assistant Secretary of Commerce and CEO of Manatos & Manatos. Mike Manatos is President of Manatos & Manatos. The Manatos family has been working in or with the federal government for 3 generations and over 83 years.