For nearly a generation, voters in Virginia’s 8th Congressional District have overwhelmingly supported James P. Moran as their representative, despite a series of controversies, including voter fraud allegations this year against his son. But he has repeatedly overcome them to sail to victory multiple times.
Moran served as mayor of Alexandria before he was elected to Congress in 1990. Now seeking his 12th term, he has won at least 60 percent of the vote each time he has asked voters to send him back to Washington.
“This constituency is more politically involved and more knowledgable of current events than any in the country,” Moran said in a statement Friday, adding that he has a history of “working in a bipartisan manner without compromising the values of my constituency and my principles.”
For the second time, Moran faces challenger Patrick Murray, who sought to unseat him in 2010 but lost by more than 45,000 votes. Murray is running on a message of “people over politics,” a nod to the partisan rancor contributing to voters’ low opinion of Congress.
This time around, the two men are campaigning in a newly drawn 8th District, which now includes all of Fort Belvoir and extends south to the Occoquan Bay and Lorton area. The Reston and Dulles Toll Road corridor and portions of McLean are no longer in the district. And they are on the ballot in a presidential election year in a battleground state that also features a closely watched contest for U.S. Senate.
Murray is hoping those factors combine to improve his showing from 2010.
“Two years ago, we were at the top of the ballot,” Murray said. “There was no one else running. Now, we’re at the center of gravity in the political universe. I’ve got more name recognition. I’m still the decided underdog but not as much as in 2010.”
Not unlike previous years, controversy surrounds Moran.
In 2002, The Washington Post reported that Moran had gotten favorable terms on a home-
refinancing package from MBNA, even as a he backed a bankruptcy reform bill supported by the credit card industry. Moran also drew scrutiny for taking personal loans in 1999 from a friend who was a drug-company lobbyist.
On Oct. 24, Moran’s son and campaign field adviser, Patrick Moran, was forced to resign amid accusations that he discussed possible voter fraud with an activist posing as a campaign worker. Patrick Moran, who appeared not to know that he was being recorded, did not explicitly advocate the worker’s suggestion to cast ballots on behalf of other voters but he did not disabuse him of the idea. Authorities are investigating the incident.
“Jim has a long legacy of some ethical challenges and a lot of hurtful language and things I just don’t think move the country forward, much less the district,” Murray said. “This is just the latest in the line.”
In his statement, James Moran denied that his campaign tampered with the electoral process and said his son exercised poor judgment.
“Patrick should have told this political operative who had been posing as an Obama for America volunteer for over a week that he was going to turn him in to the authorities,” Moran said. “This has been one of those lessons in life that you don’t forget.”