At the campaign headquarters on Franconia Road, the daily drill begins about 9:30 a.m., when about a dozen phone bank volunteers begin fishing for cash to feed the beast: Alexandria Mayor James P. Moran Jr.'s bid for Congress.
Across the hall from the stock-exchange pace of the campaign's main office, the telephone volunteers' faces reflect a harried urgency. Political strategy aside, raising funds by phone is the campaign's lifeblood, and everyone there knows it.
Without money, and lots of it, the Democratic challenger would have no television and radio commercials and no hope of unseating Republican Rep. Stan Parris in Virginia's 8th Congressional District.
For most of the campaign, Moran has worked the phones himself for about two hours a day. Running for Congress in suburban Washington literally has become a game of Dialing for Dollars.
"He'd rather be out meeting voters, but this is something he has to do," Moran campaign manager Mame Reiley said. "Unless he's on TV, he doesn't stand a chance."
At Parris's tidy campaign office on Eisenhower Avenue yesterday, all was relatively calm. A half-dozen workers reviewed plans for distributing the candidate's literature and for neighborhood campaigning this weekend.
There were no phone banks, no volunteers poring over computerized lists of loyal party members. Parris, seeking his seventh term, has the fund-raising operation of a longtime political insider, relying on mailings and on the support of several friends who are among Northern Virginia's wealthiest developers, lawyers and business leaders.
While Parris and Moran have waged one of the most bitter and expensive campaigns in the country, their different fund-raising techniques reflect the advantages enjoyed by incumbent members of Congress and the obstacles that confront their challengers.
Moran's campaign has raised about $700,000 since January, about $80,000 more than Parris and enough to make Moran one of the few challengers in the country to raise more than his incumbent opponent this year. Parris's campaign manager, Randy Hinamann, said that combined with contributions from last year, Parris has raised about $748,000.
Both campaigns said they expect to raise eventually $850,000 to $1 million each.
What became the most serious challenge to Parris's seat in nearly a decade began in January, when a small group of Moran supporters in Alexandria sent a "trial" fund-raising letter to about 5,000 people in the 8th District. That netted about $10,000, and Moran's campaign was born.
Moran quickly picked up support from labor and women's rights groups and other organizations that traditionally support Democrats, but Reiley said the campaign's coffers began to swell after it received contributor lists from Sen. Charles S. Robb (D-Va.), Virginia Gov. L. Douglas Wilder and others.
Using those lists, Moran's telephone teams have been able to squeeze contributions from areas of Fairfax, Prince William and Stafford counties where the mayor never had campaigned before. Reiley estimated that Alexandria residents, who make up about 25 percent of the 8th District's voters, have accounted for 30 percent of the Moran campaign's contributions.
This week Moran's wife, Mary, took a leave of absence from her job as an investment broker and began making about 100 calls a day for him.
"I know if I went in to work to sell stocks I'd always be thinking about this, so I might as well be working here," Mary Moran said yesterday as her 15-month-old son, Patrick, tried to bounce a "Moran for Congress" balloon off his mother's nose.
Throughout his 12 years in Congress, Parris has used taxpayer-financed mailings to build support, then used his campaign's mailings to pitch for money. He also has received tens of thousands of dollars from conservative political groups such as National Right to Life, an antiabortion organization. Moran has received contributions from political action committees of teachers and labor unions.
Unlike Moran, Parris "really doesn't get that involved in asking for money," Hinamann said.
Instead, Parris relies on widespread support of longtime friends who, like Parris, became wealthy by riding the wave of development in Fairfax County during the last 30 years. Key players in the Parris fund-raising effort include developers John T. "Til" Hazel and Myron P. Erkiletian, the campaign's treasurer.
Each campaign said it plans to spend more than $150,000 on radio and television advertisements in the last days before the elections Tuesday.