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Brian Moran to step down as Virginia’s Democratic Party chairman

By Errin Haines,

The chairman of the Democratic Party of Virginia said Wednesday that he is stepping down next month — just over a week after he helped deliver the state in the presidential and U.S. Senate races .

Brian J. Moran, who has been chairman for two years, said he wants the party to bring in a new leader as it heads into what is widely expected to be a busy 2013 campaign season in the commonwealth.

Moran’s resignation is effective Dec. 8 — the date of the next meeting of the Democratic State Central Committee meeting in Williamsburg. Committee members will elect a new chair in accordance with party rules.

Shortly after Moran’s announcement, House Minority Whip Charniele Herring (D-Alexandria) said that she will seek the chairmanship. Herring, 42, joined the General Assembly in January 2009. If elected chair, she would not have to vacate her House seat.

In a letter to supporters Wednesday, Herring said she is running for the post to channel Democrats’ “grassroots strength” and build on this year’s electoral victories. She said she has the support of Moran, gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe and many legislative colleagues.

Moran, 53, spent eight years as the Democratic Caucus chair in the House of Delegates before running unsuccessfully in the Democratic primary for governor in 2009. He has served as party chair since 2010 and is the brother of Rep. James P. Moran (D-Va.).

Brian Moran is departing as head of the party after two high-profile Democratic victories in Virginia: the reelection of President Obama and the election of Timothy M. Kaine as the state’s junior senator.

Party spokesman Brian Coy said that Moran is “going to take a little bit of time off” to explore his options before making a decision on his next move but that he will probably “remain active in politics.”

“I am pleased to report that the Democratic Party of Virginia is in a solid position to play a significant role in electing a Democratic statewide ticket and making gains in the legislature in 2013,” Moran said in his statement.

Kaine and Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), both former governors, praised Moran and thanked him for his service in separate statements Wednesday.

Warner has said he would announce by Thanksgiving whether he will run for governor, although few Virginia Democrats expect that he will.

Should he decide to run, Warner would be the overwhelming favorite in next year’s gubernatorial race, according to a poll by Quinnipiac University released Wednesday.

A state party source said that Warner and McAuliffe had talked and that “Terry had his [Warner’s] blessing” to run for governor.

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