Washington briefing: Congressional Armenian Caucus co-chair to run for Senate

by Emil Sanamyan

Published: Friday July 24, 2009

Congressional Armenian Caucus co-chair Rep. Mark Kirk (R.-Ill.) announces his bid for the US Senate. He is seen here with former Illionois Gov. Jim Edgar. ANCA

Washington - Rep. Mark Kirk (R.-Ill.) who last January became co-chair of the congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues will run for the U.S. Senate, he announced on July 20.

In the 2010 congressional elections, Mr. Kirk will be running for the Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama after he was elected president. The seat is currently held by a temporary appointee of the former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich. That appointment was preceded by a national scandal when wiretaps of Gov. Blagojevich allegedly scheming to sell the vacant seat were made public by prosecutors.

In his announcement, Mr. Kirk pledged to make "ethics" and "integrity," along with economy and foreign wars, centerpieces of his campaign. According to the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), Mr. Kirk also thanked Armenian-Americans for their support during his service in Congress.

Mr. Kirk was first elected to Congress in 2000 with the ANCA's endorsement. Earlier in his political career, he was a senior staff member for Rep. John Porter (R.-Ill.) who was founding co-chair of the Armenian Caucus in 1995. A Navy veteran, Mr. Kirk has also worked in the World Bank, the State Department, and private legal practice.

As a member of the House Foreign Operations Subcommittee, Mr. Kirk supported increasing aid levels to Armenia and Karabakh. Earlier this year, he became one of four original co-sponsors of the latest congressional resolution on the Armenian Genocide.

During his nearly one decade in Congress, Mr. Kirk has also been a proponent of U.S. support for Albania and Georgia, and took a keen interest in U.S. policy toward Iran, the Caucasus, and Central Asia.

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