It has been more than three years without a Greek-American in the senate, since Olympia Snowe’s term from Maine ended in January of 2013. That could change soon with Chrysovalantis Kefalas.
Kefalas, a 35-year old lawyer from Baltimore, hopes to run in the 2016 Senate race for the state of Maryland with the Republican party. The Greek-American had been the Deputy Speechwriter for the U.S. Attorney General between 2013 and 2014, after serving for almost six years as a Trial and Appellate attorney at the DOJ.
“I have the experience and the leadership necessary to renew the American Dream and to restore the middle class in Maryland and the US. I have served the people of Maryland my entire life and I am ready and able and have the right vision to do so again,” he said.
A senate race for a Republican in the state of Maryland is arguably a difficult task. In fact, the last time Maryland had a Republican Senator was 1987 with Charles Matthias. Kefalas however, believes that he is capable of working with people from both parties to advance Maryland and to restore what he sees as a weakened United States both internally and as a global power.
“I think that starts with restoring manufacturing in Maryland in the United States by addressing tax and regulatory policy that harms growth, that stifles investment and keeps America from leading the world in producing the next wave of innovations and opportunities for everyone in this country,” he said.
Manufacturing is a core part of Kefalas’s campaign. He has served as Vice-President of the National Association of Manufacturers since August 2014, something that he says allows him to work for an industry he calls the “foundation of the American economy” that touches everyone in Maryland and the U.S..
Manufacturers are not the only group of people he is interested in helping. Kefalas’ grandparents as well as his father are Greek and the Senate hopeful noted that with the exception of last year he has been visiting Greece for every year for the past 10 years to meet with his cousins on the islands of Rhodes and Karpathos. But ancestry is not only a matter of familiarity and pride for the candidate.
“We have 3 million people of Greek descent in the United States and not a single Greek-American U.S. senator. We are currently relying on others to represent our interest in the world’s greatest deliberative body and I think that is actually shameful. I think we as a community deserve and should have more say in our future. We should be able to have someone who is capable of fighting for our issues and our priorities,” he said.
A specific point Kefalas touched upon was Turkey and its record in human rights. He asserted that politicians talk about Cyprus and the problem of patriarchy. However he would work with people from both parties to create consensus to issues that our relevant not only for the Greel people, but people in a civilized world that seeks to advance human rights and religious liberty. As such, his presence in the Senate, woule be a “game-changer” in pressuring world leaders to move forward in these issues.
Kefalas is a Greek Orthodox Christian. He has also been openly gay, a choice the Greek Orthodox church considers a sin. While, he claimed that he has never been asked by a voter who he loves, he does believe that having fought for marriage equality as a Republican demonstrates he has the moral courage and the willingness to lead when difficult decisions need to be made.
While the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of gay marriage across the country in June 2015, Greece recently legislated a same-sex cohabitation agreement which gives same-sex couples certain legal rights. Kefalas viewed the legislation as a positive step for strengthening civil liberties in Greece.
The Greek Orthodox Church condemned the legislation while some individual clerics publicly bashed homosexuals in anticipation of the vote in parliament. Kefalas who is a faithful Orthodox Christian clearly has a different stance on the matter. However, he seeks to remind people that marriage equality is an issue that cannot change as quickly.
“I don’t think we can expect an institution that has been around for thousands of years to change overnight. Families do not change overnight,” he said.
In his view, people who share his conviction should be understanding of principled disagreements and seek to change minds.
Aside from the present, Kefalas notes that he draws inspiration from his Greek ancestry to push forward his campaign team.
“I continuouslly tell my team ‘let’s look at the example of my ancestors to forge a path for us forward’. It’s not necessarily a visible part of the campaign people see, but my campaign team hears it all the time,” he said.