Moran Runs on His Record in the 8th

(Monday, October 16, 2006 9:56 AM EDT)
How do you beat a congressional incumbent who's been on Capitol Hill for more than 15 years? U.S. Rep. Jim Moran, D-8th, says his two challengers this year don't seem to have the experience to do it.

In a recent interview with the Sun Gazette, Moran said that proving himself locally to the voters in the 8th District has been one of the key factors to his success. Involvment in local politics, and the experience as mayor of Alexandria, has provided the background needed in his current job, Moran said.

“Everyone who has run against me has considered Congress to be an entry-level job,” he said. “It's not.”

Judging from feedback he's received during his campaign so far, Moran believes that voters still think he's proving himself. They approve of his views on the war, the energy policy and the environment, he said.

Moran voted against giving President Bush authority to go to war in Iraq, and wants to redeploy troops out of the country as soon as possible. He said that the U.S. (excluding special operation forces) could be out of Iraq within six months: three months to draw up a plan and three more to execute it.

Considering independent opponent Jim Huryz a marginal candidate, Moran declined from commenting on his position on the war. But he is openly critical of Republican candidate Tom O'Donoghue's views.

“O'Donoghue believes in staying on course and following the president's leadership,” he said. “I think [the president] has led us in the wrong direction.”

Moran suggests that the Bush Administration should listen to people who know what they're talking about, and not base decisions on the advice of what he termed “like-minded idealogues.”

Capitol Hill is a tough environment to work in right now, the eight-term congressman said.

Although he gets along with fellow Virginia representatives Tom Davis and Frank Wolf (both Republicans) and works well with moderates like Iowa Republican Jim Leach, Moran said he believes that most Republican members of Congress have no vested interest in their country.

“It's not about making America better,” he said. “It's about making the Republicans stronger.”

The 8th District includes all of Arlington, Alexandria and the City of Falls Church. Parts of Fairfax County out to Reston are also included.

The district was redrawn by the Republican-dominated General Assembly after the 2000 federal census, to lump in as many Democrats as possible (making the seats of Wolf and Davis safer). As a result, the 8th District is one of the safest Democratic seats in the state and perhaps the nation.

Not that Moran doesn't sometimes find himself in trouble, often due to his outspokenness.

Earlier this year, he drew ire when the Sun Gazette reported Moran's plans to bring back big congressional appropriations for the district, if Democrats gain majority control. He later was criticized by some for politicizing a speech in Arlington marking the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

In response to critics who have faulted him for voting against the recent lobby-reform bill, Moran argues that the proposed bill was “too little too late.”

With a shelf-life of only three months, Moran said he thought the bill was a sham and not a serious attempt at lobby reform.

Moran said he does not consider congressional spending to be the main cause for the national debt, which is now more than $8 trillion. The Bush Administration's decision to finance a war with four tax cuts is what he believes to be the root of the country's deficit.

Moran had strong views about a number of other issues that affect voters in the 8th District:

* He thinks the only way to reduce the nation's deficit is to suspend tax cuts until the four previous ones have been paid for.

* He is open to the Gov. Kaine's decision to open one more westbound lane on Interstate 66's original footprint, a position strongly opposed by much of Arlington's political leadership.

* He strongly supports building rail out to Washington Dulles International Airport.

* He believes that, in the long run, Arlington will be stronger financially as a result of the federal base-closing process known as BRAC. Crystal City will flourish because of companies' high demand for office buildings, he said.

* He hopes the United States will wean itself off fossil fuels for reasons related to the environment, the economy and foreign relations. By consuming 26 percent of the world's energy, he believes that the United States is underwriting “the other side.”

* Moran supports government subsidy of plug-in hybrid-vehicle manufacturing.

U.S. Rep. Jim Moran, D-8th, has served in Congress since 1991.

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