Dina Titus, a “proud” Greek American, recently returned from a trip to Greece “reinvigorated” for a second run to Congress.
The Democratic candidate for Nevada’s First Congressional District is determined to finish the job she started in her freshman term four years ago.
As a seasoned campaigner with 20 years experience in the Nevada Senate, Titus is taking no chances in these elections.
The 62-year-old has chosen to run in Nevada’s most Democrat-leaning district. She even muscled out Nevada’s Democratic State Senator Ruben Kihuen, who dropped out of the race earlier this year.
Titus is doing all she can to avoid a repeat of the 2010 vote in which she lost her re-election bid to Republican opponent Joe Heck by less than 1 percentage point (1,922 votes) in one of most hotly contested congressional races.
She had been reportedly punished by voters in the Third District – one of the hardest hit by the recession – for her support of President Barack Obama’s unpopular health care initiative and his controversial economic stimulus package.
This time around, Titus has promised to “stand up for working families” and to “fight back against Wall Street banks that have walked away with billions while our communities suffer”.
"It is clear that Southern Nevadans are still hurting and need someone who will do what's right for them,” Titus said in a statement announcing her House bid. “They need real solutions and honest leadership."
Titus’ new election campaign revolves around three key priorities: helping Nevada homeowners avoid foreclosure, investing in the renewable energy sector to create jobs and protect Medicare and Social Security.
In her kick off speech she said (in a twangy Southern drawl): “You know me. I have never been afraid to stand up to the powerful regardless of the political consequences”.
But Titus is no a stranger to controversy. During her successful 2008 Congressional bid, her Republican opponent, Jon Porter, ran TV ads accusing her of taking two salaries: one as a state legislator and the other for teaching at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, a public university that relies on state funds. In 2010, opponents accused her of wasteful spending. Now she is criticized for being too power hungry.
Titus grew up in a small town in Georgia where her grandfather, Arthur Konstantinos Cathones, owned a restaurant. One of her earliest memories is of her family driving over a hundred miles away in order to stack their pantry with Greek delicacies like feta cheese and Kalamata olives.
Titus also remembers how her grandfather, who came to American in 1911, taught her to count and write the alphabet in Greek and introduced her to Greek food. In his honor, she purchased a brick with his name on it at the restored Ellis Island (where millions of newly-arrived immigrants passed through between 1892 and 1954). She was also sworn into Congress with her hand on her grandfather’s Greek Bible.
As a self-described “proud Greek”, Titus says her heritage has helped shape her outlook and perspective on life and the world.
Her work in the Greek American community has not gone unnoticed. Titus has been honored for her efforts by the Pan-Macedonia Association of America. She is also the recipient of the prestigious Pericles Award from the American Hellenic Council in Los Angeles. In 2010, she was honored at the Annual Cyprus and Hellenic Leadership Conference in Washington.
On July 26, Titus will be honored by the Daughters of Penelope, the women’s auxiliary of the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA) Family. The event is part of AHEPA’s 90th anniversary celebration.
Titus, who has never shied away from her Greek heritage, has launched a Greek website – a Hellenic twist to her official site – in which she says her Greek roots have played an important part in her life and political career.
Titus, who attends the St. John the Baptist Church in Las Vegas, participates in activities of the Greek Orthodox Ladies Philoptochos Society and keeps in close contact the Greek community in Las Vegas and around the country.
During her two-year stint in Congress, Titus is remembered for her role in the Hellenic Caucus. She stood in strong support of efforts to protect the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul, reunify the divided island of Cyprus and find a solution to the Greek-Macedonia name dispute.
In June 2009, President Barack Obama sent her to represent him at the opening of the new Acropolis Museum in Athens. During her visit, she met with Greek leaders to discuss the important relationship between the United States and Greece.
According to her Greek website, Titus has fought for numerous Greek issues – something she said she will continue to do if re-elected.