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Race to Richmond

(By Steve Helber -- Associated Press)
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Brian Moran (D)
Former Virginia House of Delegates and Candidate for Governor
Wednesday, May 20, 2009; 11:30 AM

Brian Moran, a Democrat and former member of the Virginia House of Delegates, was online Wednesday, May 20, at 11:30 a.m. ET to discuss his campaign for Governor of the state of Virginia.

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Moran Web Site

Race to Richmond: Full Coverage

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Brian Moran: Thank you to the team at the Washington Post for having us here. It's great to be with you. And thanks to Chris and Bruce for moderating last night's debate. It gave everyone a good chance to learn about real distinctions in this race AND to hear about our records.

I'm looking forward to your questions.

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Arlington, Va.: What are a couple of reasons why you would be a better gov than your democratic rivals?

Brian Moran: That's a great question and important one. These elections matter.

Let me start out by making clear that one of the Democratic candidates for Governor must win in November. Bob McDonnell represents a total retreat on everything we have accomplished in Virginia. I've been the legislative point man for Mark Warner and Tim Kaine so I know how far we have come and refuse to let us retreat.

But I do believe that I am the best Democratic nominee. I have a proven record of fighting for Virginia families for 20 years - as a prosecutor, legislator and Democratic leader. People know they can trust that i'll fight for them because I always have.

More than that, there are real important policy differences in this race. I'm the only candidate with a progressive vission -- opposing offshore drilling and a new coal plant in the Chesapeake Bay. I'm the only candidate for Governor standing up for Virginia's children and pledging that every one of them should have health care. We have real important differences that make me the right standard bearer for our party.

And, I believe, I am the strongest candidate to win in November.

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Fairfax County, Va.: I worked all last year on the Obama campaign as a volunteer in northern Virginia. I am still angry that Terry McAuliffe pointedly left Denver before President Obama's acceptance speech. But even before he entered the race, I was torn between you and Creigh Deeds on electability. Creigh seems like a more Jim-Webb-style, middle of the road, centrist candidate who people from other parts of the state can identify with. Why do you feel a northern Virginian with progressive views, such as yourself, can defeat McDonnell? I would love to be convinced you can -- please tell me.

Brian Moran: Thanks for that question. You're not the first person who I've heard that criticism about my opponent from. That's why I thought it was unfortunate he ran misleading radio ads claiming credit for electing President Obama.

To your question, I believe Creigh Deeds is a good man. But I believe he and I have a different philosophy on some issues important to Virginia Democrats. On the question of electability, Creigh ran last time and was unsuccessful. Since than, Bob McDonnell has raised his profile even more.

I've spent the last 8 years traveling across Virginia coordinating campaigns that win in tough Republican-leaning distircts from Loudoun to Lynchburg to Virginia Beach. I know how to win in suburban and rural communities and a I have a strong base here in Northern Virginia. Mark Warner won comming from Alexandria and Northern Virginia was key to Tim Kaine and Jim Webb's victory. Beyond that, I can go toe-to-toe with Bob McDonnell on the issues. Having been a prosecutor for 7 years, I will not let him make Democrats seem "soft" on safety issues and can win the debate on the major policy issues of the day.

It's worth noting that the major public polls on the general election have shown me as the strongest Democratic candidate against McDonnell in November.

I can, and will, beat Bob McDonnell...like a drum.

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Burke, Va.: As the only candidate to come out against New Coal plants and increased GHG emissions and toxins into the Bay I still hardly hear about your positions in public debate. When will you really voice the details of your support for Renewable Energy and Green Jobs for Virginia and the specific programs for improving both?

Brian Moran: Thanks for that question. I have made my opposition to a new coal mega-plant in the Chesapeake Bay and to offshore drilling cornerstones of my campaign.

But I was the first candidate for Governor to call for 25% of our energy to come from renewable sources by 2025. I am the only candidate to call for reforms to our electric utility system that prioritize efficiency instead of consumption (called decoupling). I was the first to put forward a comprehensive "Green Virginia" plan and would encourage you to take a look at it on my website at www.BrianMoran.com. My plan will create thousands of new green energy jobs right here in Virginia - from weatherizing homes to research and technology.

And, it's worth noting, that I've fought for years to improve the construction of state buildings so that they are efficient and preserve our environment (LEED standards). You know that I will be there to fight for Virginia's environment because I have - that's why the League of Conservation Voters named me a Legislative Hero in 2008.

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Midlothian, Va.: Mr. McAuliffe has talked a lot about making Virginia hospitable for businesses. While this kind of rhetoric makes me a little concerned (I think of all of the concessions at the expense of workers, citizens and the environment that have often been made in the name of attracting businesses), Mr. McAuliffe seems to believe he can attract business in other ways. He discusses for instance, the need for a renewable energy standard. As of now, I feel pretty satisfied with this plan. Should I be? Also, if you disagree with him, what do you think is the best way to attract businesses while still protecting the rights of citizens and workers and the environment?

Brian Moran: I believe we can create thousands of green jobs here in Virginia with a commitment to alternative and renewable energy. As a matter of fact, I was the first candidate in this race to call for 25% of our energy to come from alternative and renewable energy but was pleased when Mr. McAuliffe followed my lead. In order to meet this goal, we can't support offshore drilling and a new coal plant like my opponents do.

He and I do have a differing philosophy on how to grow the economy. I believe we build this economy from the bottom up, not the top down. Our goal must be to keep the doors of the stores on main street open, not just wall street. That means providing a tax credit for job creation in our small businesses and increasing the minimum wage to put money back into the pockets of hard working families. Fighting for them will be my priority.

You should take a look at my Economic Stimulus and Recovery plan that I announced on February 20th. It's on my website at www.BrianMoran.com. The plan lays out in detial the measures we can take to grow our economy and make workers our priority.

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Springfield, Va.: How can we beat that big money McAuliffe machine? What can we do to fight that type of out of state influence.

Brian Moran: We've never had any notion that we would raise the most money in this campaign but money isn't everything. You're right that only 18% of his donations come from within Virginia, the upside to that is that only 18% of them can vote for him!

We are building this grassroots campaign from the bottom up. That's why we've built the strongest network of local community leaders in any race of this kind. Over 100 elected officials have endorsed my campaign including Mayors of Richmond, Norfolk, Newport News, Hamtpon, Portsmouth, Williamsburg, Falls Church, Alexandria, Leesburg, Petersburg and the Board Chair in Arlington, to name a few. You can see the full list at www.BrianMoran.com.

These are the people who know their communities and know how to win elections. We are not going to win this race with big money, we're going to win it with grassroots support. And we're on our way....

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Alexandria, Va.: Can a potential governor of Virginia really have a Boston accent? Tell me at least that you're not a Red Sox fan.

Brian Moran: Of the last four Governors, only one was born in Virginia --- Jim Gilmore. That didn't work out so well.

In addition to being a Red Sox fan, I am a Nats fan. But that is getting tougher and tougher each day.

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Arlington, Va.: Leadership is about more than just the day to day decisions. Do you have any sort of larger, strategic view for the direction of Virginia?

Brian Moran: As the legislative point man for Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, my strategic vision is built on the shoulders of their great work. We need to build on what they have done to move forward.

My vision is a progressive vision. Business plans are about profits, we need a Governor who puts people first. That means we make sure to ensure equality and opportunity for every Virginian. That's why I am committed to raising teacher salaires to the national average so every child has the chance to learn from a top quality teacher. I've pledged to expand early childhood education so kids get an early start. And I am committed to fighting for economic fairness and environmental responsibility.

That's the corp of my progressive vision for where to take Virginia. It's a vision that makes people the priority.

_______________________

Annandale, Va.: Thank you for taking questions today.

I was pleased to hear yesterday that you were in favor of repealing the Marshall-Newman Amendment banning gay marriage in Virginia.

I am wondering if you are also willing to fight for other LGBT rights in Virginia? Such as prohibiting discrimination against employees on the basis of sexual orientation?

Brian Moran: Thanks for that great question.

I am the only candidate for Governor who has pledged to repeal the anti-gay Marshall-Newman Amendment. I fought against, campaigned against and voted against the passage of that in 2006. We should not put discriminatory language like that into our constitution. Despite that amendment, I will do everything I can to ensure equal rights for LGBT Virginians like hospital visitation, employment anti-discrimation and others.

But it's really disappointing to me that my opponents in this campaign don't share this position. One of my opponents voted to put it in the constitution and the other claims not to have time to repeal it. When it comes to equality and discrimination, the Governor of Virginia needs to make time.

I'm proud that the Virginia Partisans Gay and Lesbian Democratic Club has urged their members to vote for me because of my strong stand for equality in Virginia.

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Spotsylvania, Va.: Brian, I used to be a supporter of yours, but I have changed because of your negative attacks upon your fellow Democrats, to wit, your recent ads in primarily African-American areas? Clearly you were trying to race bait and suppress votes in the primary. You FAILED to endorse a presidential candidate until after the primary. Your own Chair was a Hillary supporter to the end, and yet you attack McAuliffe for working hard in the primary and will not acknowledge his hard work for Obama in the general. My question to you is why have you failed to highlight your own record and decided to focus almost completely on the negative attacks? After all the time you spent in the House of Delegates, are you running FROM your record?

Brian Moran: First, I'm very proud of my record. I am running not only on my record of fighting for Virginians for 20 years but also on a bold progressive vision.

I would be pleased to have a campaign about our records but it has to be a truthful and honest discussion. That's why I've begun airing a radio ad that sets the record straight. My opponent aired ads claiming credit for the election of President Barack Obama and the Washington Post even called it into quesiton given his history of opposing President Obama.

If we can have an honest, truthful discussion about our records, then I am confident I will win. But I won't let my opponent re-write history. I have nothing against who he supported in the primary, my concern is his efforts to change his record.

I know who elected President Obama and it was grassroots leaders and local volunteers in small towns and big cities all across Virginia. They're the ones who get to claim credit and I'll do all I can to set the record straight.

This is the hypocricy that people have shown they're tired of in Washington-style politics. We've been better than that in Virginia. My opponent taking credit for electing President Barack Obama is like the rooster taking credit for the sunrise.

_______________________

Richmond, Va.: I believe that fixing transportation is central to Virginia progressing and growing. I don't just mean fixing the roads but promoting public transit, especially rail. What would you do as governor to promote transit? How would you succeed where so many other have failed?

Brian Moran: As one who has raised a family and created jobs here in Northern Virginia, I share the frustration of many Washington Post readers who are stuck in traffic every day. We must make a major investment in transportation that relieves congrestion, gets business moving and gets families home to the dinner table at night. There is no one in Virginia who has fought harder and worked harder to get this done.

I am the only candidate for Governor to stand with Governor Kaine and supported his proposal for the largest investment in mass transit and rail in Virginia history.

My priority will be expanding the transdominion express, freight rail along I-81, completing rail to Dulles and creating high speed rail from Northern Virginia to Richmond to Hampton Roads.

We need a Governor that people can trust will fight for a transportation solution and someone that knows transit and rail have to be a top priority. We need only look at the results of transit oriented development in Arlington County to see the many benefits - reduced traffic, new jobs, lower taxes, and environmental preservation.

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Virginia: The Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on the Eastern Shore of Virginia will soon be launching re-supply to the orbiting space station as the space shuttle is retired. The Virginia-owned Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport is an important state asset. Will you support its expansion to launch astonauts from there in the next decade in competition with Florida?

Brian Moran: Absolutely. This is a great example of an innovative approach that can create jobs, put people back to work, and help families on the Eastern Shore. The Spaceport has tremendous potential and I carried legislation to help move their work forward.

The work of the spaceport is yet another reason why I am opposed to offshore drilling. We can't realize the potential of this innovative approach if we build oil rigs off the Eastern Shore.

_______________________

Virginia: My most important issue is the representation of Asian American communities - specifically Korean Americans right here in Annadale, VA is a great example of where we thrive as small businesses, go to churches and we have many elderly in Senior centers with language barriers. How as Governor, are you going to communicate and assist this community?

Brian Moran: Good question. I will make representation of our Asian Community, and all ethnic communities, a top priority as Governor. I come to it as the grandson of Irish immigrants. My grandparents met on the boat and arrived on the shores in 1901. They worked to provide for their family but would have never expected to have one grandson in the United State's Congress and another running for the highest office in Virginia.

I am proud to have the support of the Korean American Democrats Association in my campaign. They have recognized that it will be my priority to fight for a thriving small business community and to work hard for our senior citizens. Just this week I announced my "Silver Virginia" plan to provide for our senior citizens and ensure they can age with dignity and comfort in thier own home.

I will put together an administration that reflects the wonderful diversity of Virginia. That's one of the major differences between me and my Republican opponent, I see the diversity as a strength.

_______________________

Brian Moran: Thanks to everyone for the great questions. I am sorry I couldn't get to them all but it was a great discussion.

Please take a minute and learn more about our campaign at www.BrianMoran.com. You can read detailed policy proposals on energy, the economy, education and our recently released plan for seniors.

Thanks again to the Washington Post for hosting the debate yesterday and this chat today.

- Brian

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Editor's Note: washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions. washingtonpost.com is not responsible for any content posted by third parties.


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