Moran Wins Va. Primary
Democrat Survives Debate on Fitness
By Lisa Rein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 9, 2004; Page A01
Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (Va.) won renomination yesterday in a Democratic primary that became a debate between the seven-term congressman from Northern Virginia and his relatively little-known opponent, Andrew M. Rosenberg, about the incumbent's fitness for office.
Moran defeated Rosenberg, a lawyer and lobbyist from Alexandria, with a door-to-door, low-tech campaign in which he sought to reassure voters that his seniority and record of delivering for his suburban district outweighed his personal and political missteps.
Facing his first primary challenge, Moran, 59, ran with the fervor of an underdog to win back those constituents he feared he had estranged.
"It was all about me," he said before thanking supporters at his Arlington headquarters. "In 25 years in public service, I've invested a lot in this community."
Moran's victory, 59 percent to Rosenberg's 41 percent, was substantial, but he said he was disappointed that the margin was not larger.
"It's a good vote total, but from my point of view, it should have been 90 to 10," he said.
Moran, who lives in Arlington County, was heavily favored to win. He had the backing of a majority of the 8th Congressional District's elected Democrats and more than double his opponent's campaign cash.
But last week, Moran's pollster, Alan Secrest, said he quit the campaign after the congressman made a remark that Secrest said was anti-Semitic during a private meeting of campaign advisers. Moran and two other advisers who were in the room said the accusation was untrue, and Secrest would not disclose what Moran said.
Supporters and opponents alike said the controversy raised the race's profile and brought them to the polls.
Rosenberg, 36, said he was proud he had offered voters a Democratic alternative to Moran.
"It's obviously always difficult to run against an incumbent," he said. "There's no question that Congressman Moran has a strong and loyal base of support."
Political observers said that Rosenberg, a former aide to Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), failed to energize voters with a vision for the socially and politically liberal district that was markedly different from Moran's. Running as the anti-Moran wasn't enough, they said.
"He had very little in the way of leadership experience," Arlington County Board member Paul Ferguson (D) said of Rosenberg. "His positions on the issues were like apple pie for a Democratic candidate. . . . There wasn't very much substantive that was new."
The congressman ran up his largest margins in Alexandria, where he won his first City Council seat in the Del Ray neighborhood in 1979 and later served as mayor. With just one contest on the ballot, about 12 percent of the 8th District's 349, 527 active registered voters went to the polls. The heavily Democratic district was redrawn in 2000 to extend west of Moran's home base of Alexandria and Arlington into Falls Church, Reston and other slivers of Fairfax County.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company
Rep. James P. Moran Jr., who ran a grass-roots campaign in an effort to win back any disaffected voters, celebrates with a speech to a gathering of supporters in Arlington.
(Rich Lipski -- The Washington Post)
A June 9 article on Rep. James P. Moran Jr.'s primary victory in Virginia's 8th Congressional District mischaracterized a vote by the Greater Washington chapter of Americans for Democratic Action. The group's board decided to adopt a neutral stance in the Democratic primary.
The Battle for the 8th District (The Washington Post, Jun 3, 2004)
The Challenger: Andrew M. Rosenberg (The Washington Post, Jun 3, 2004)
Biography: Andrew M. Rosenberg (The Washington Post, Jun 3, 2004)
The Incumbent: Rep. James P. Moran (The Washington Post, Jun 3, 2004)
Biography: Rep. James P. Moran (The Washington Post, Jun 3, 2004)