Alexandria Mayor James P. Moran Jr., who recently sparred with Rep. Stan Parris (R-Va.) over America's military confrontation with Iraq, accused Parris yesterday of voting to support Iraq shortly before hostilities began.

Moran, a Democrat trying to unseat Parris, threatened last week to punch his rival after he charged that Moran supported Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. Yesterday Moran pointed out that Parris voted to give Iraq a $500 million food subsidy just a few weeks before Iraq invaded Kuwait.

"It doesn't seem to me," Moran said at a news conference, "that Stan Parris is protecting the American men and women in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait by voting to give Saddam Hussein $500 million."

Parris was out of town and could not be reached for comment. A spokesman for Parris, Mark Strand, acknowledged that Parris voted in favor of the food subsidy July 27, and said he did so at the behest of the Bush administration.

"The administration . . . asked Congress to hold off," Strand said, so it could eliminate the subsidy on its own terms. Parris "was supporting the administration's foreign policy and not trying to micromanage, as Congress frequently does. The administration has cut off the subsidy, and the congressman supports that. I don't see that as being weak."

Moran and Parris are vying to represent Northern Virginia's 8th Congressional District, which includes Alexandria, southern Fairfax County, eastern Prince William County and northern Stafford County.

Their dispute over America's military confrontation with Iraq began about two weeks ago when Moran said in a news conference that "the United States acts precipitously and unilaterally far too often {in foreign affairs} . . . I don't think we should be out there on a limb alone."

Parris fired back with his own news conference last week, saying, "The only three people I know who support Saddam Hussein's position are Moammar Gadhafi, Yasser Arafat and Jim Moran," linking Moran with leaders who have backed terrorism. Moran, outraged, called Parris "a deceitful, fatuous jerk," adding, "I want to break his nose."

Moran said yesterday that his remarks last week reflected a fury at Parris for "impugning my patriotism. I don't impugn his patriotism; I wouldn't think of it . . . . I am questioning his judgment and his ability to represent the 8th District."