Ellmore Challenges Moran On Economic Downturn

By Michael Laris
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 30, 2008

The advantages of incumbency can be vast, and U.S. Rep. James P. Moran Jr.'s race for reelection against a low-profile Republican challenger underlines that point.

Moran's perch on the powerful House Appropriations Committee has given the nine-term incumbent a platform for speaking out on national and local issues, including his opposition to the Iraq war and his support for extending rail to Dulles International Airport. His campaign has raised $1.18 million, compared with $51,000 for GOP candidate Mark W. Ellmore, according to figures compiled by the Washington-based Center for Responsive Politics.

Still, for Ellmore, the fact that Moran is in office at a time of economic angst offers at least the outlines of a political opportunity.

"I just want the people who have given Congress this 9 percent approval rating to get the change they want," said Ellmore, a longtime mortgage executive. "Whether it's Jim or anyone else, they just don't want to accept responsibility for a lack of involvement and oversight when the whole potential for economic meltdown came about.

"You are what your record is. You are what the results are," Ellmore said.

Whether such a critique reaches receptive ears will to a large extent depend on the political demographics of Virginia's 8th Congressional District and how much the heavily Democratic constituency is apt to blame one of its own. In 2006, Moran won with two-thirds of the vote.

Moran blamed the Bush administration and years of GOP control in Congress for failing to prevent the current financial troubles and said that it's Republicans, not incumbents in general, who are going to take the hit Nov. 4.

"Democrats took over the majority in January 2007. . . . We went to work immediately on bolstering the economy. But for 12 years, the Republican-controlled Congress rejected any attempts to regulate," Moran said.

"It's a harder time for Republicans than Democrats," he said. "The American people understand that this has been the worst presidency in American history, from an economic, environmental, and social and foreign policy standpoint. That just about covers the gamut, but I don't want to exaggerate."

The candidates differ sharply on policy questions, including some immigration matters. Ellmore wants children born to parents living illegally in the United States not to be U.S. citizens.

"I do not support the anchor baby program," Ellmore said. "I want everyone to come to this country. I just want them to come through the front door and be properly documented."

U.S. law holds that people born in the United States are U.S. citizens. Moran said that that standard should remain and that comprehensive immigration reforms are needed to give undocumented immigrants a chance to become legal.

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