War and Security Lead Issues in 8th

By Annie Gowen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, November 2, 2006

In a campaign that has centered on such issues as the Iraq war, U.S.-Mexico border security and transportation, U.S. Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D) faces two challengers in his quest for a ninth term in Virginia's 8th District.

They are Republican Tom M. O'Donoghue, a decorated Army veteran, and Jim Hurysz, who is running for a second time against Moran as an independent.

O'Donoghue, 41, took a leave from his civilian job after the September 2001 attacks to volunteer for active duty in the Army in Afghanistan and, later, Iraq, where he was awarded a Bronze Star and a Combat Action Badge. He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point with an MBA from Yale University and a law degree from Georgetown and lives in the Kingstowne area with his wife and three children.

Throughout the campaign, O'Donoghue has tried to use his service overseas as a catalyst for a discussion about the conflict in Iraq, although he is angling for a seat in a largely Democratic district where polls show many voters oppose the war. The district covers Alexandria, Arlington, Falls Church and a slice of Fairfax County.

Voters "recognize we can't just walk away and hope for the best," O'Donoghue said. "They want solutions."

He has also stressed his support for border security and reducing dependence on foreign oil.

O'Donoghue said he supports a measured withdrawal from Iraq, a far different approach from that of his Democratic opponent, Moran, who opposed the war from the beginning and has called for the troops to be out by next summer.

Moran is campaigning in a much more comfortable climate than two years ago, when he faced his first primary challenge and lost support within his own party after a series of temper-fueled dust-ups and an ill-considered remark that some considered anti-Semitic.

The 62-year-old congressman has acknowledged calming down considerably in the past two years. He has married a successful Washington businesswoman, LuAnn L. Bennett, and settled into a new home in Arlington. Moran said that during his career in Congress his views have been largely consistent with those of the majority of voters in his moderate-to-liberal-leaning district.

"My views best reflect the values and vision of Northern Virginia," Moran said. "Northern Virginians are very opposed to the war . . . and have a tolerance on cultural issues."

In the traffic-clogged inner suburbs, most voters want to hear about transportation solutions, candidates said. Moran has stressed recent help in securing federal funding for such projects as the Woodlawn Road extension through Fort Belvoir, improvements for the 14th Street bridge, expansion of bus service in Fairfax County and a connector service between Rosslyn and Georgetown.

Hurysz, 59, a self-employed quality-control consultant, is making a second attempt to unseat Moran after garnering 3 percent of the vote as an independent in the 2004 race. Hurysz has kept his focus on local issues involving the environment and transportation, favoring such transit help as extending Metrorail to Dulles, installing bus-rapid transit on Route 1 and expanding ride-sharing programs.

Both challengers have struggled to raise money. O'Donoghue has raised about $40,000; Hurysz, who eschews contributions from political action committees and other special interests, about $13,000.

Moran -- who raised more than $1.2 million and is likely to spend about $200,000 on his race -- has devoted much of his time and energy in recent weeks to helping fellow Democrat James Webb in his campaign for a U.S. Senate seat.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company