Todd Moore, inventor of the White Noise app and founder of app development company TMSoft, testified before Congress this week (his testimony begins at 1:06:40), advocating for a bill that would curb “patent trolling.”
Patent trolling, Moore says, is when a company that has bought patents threatens small businesses with frivolous patent infringement lawsuits, which, if a small business tried to fight, will often bankrupt it. As relief, the trolls tell the company to send them thousands of dollars to obtain a license.
“It feels like you’re being bullied,” Moore told ARLnow.com yesterday. “That’s what these guys are, they’re well-financed bullies, and they’re abusing the system.”
Moore was eventually saved from paying thousands — if not millions, he says — by the nonprofit Public Patent Foundation, which provided him with a pro bono lawyer. Once Lodsys, the shell corporation suing Moore, learned the entrepreneur had retained a no-cost lawyer, it dropped the suit.
Most startups aren’t so lucky, Moore said. Many will simply pay the licensing fee to make the patent troll go away — which makes them susceptible to other trolls seeking to profit from more frivolous lawsuits. Others will fight, but the way patent law is set up leads to lawsuit defenses, even against lawsuits with minimal legal standing, prohibitively expensive.
Moore tells a story about college students developing a product in a startup incubator who were threatened with a lawsuit by a patent troll. They were developing promising technology, but instead folded their company because they couldn’t even pay the licensing fee — $3,500 in Moore’s case — that trolls ask for to avoid a lawsuit.
“It’s hard enough to build and run a successful startup,” Moore said. “I can’t tell you how much time I’ve spent trying to fix this issue. That’s time I could have spent building my products.”
Moore went before the House of Representatives Subcommittee on the Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet to advocate Congress passing the Innovation Act, which would close several loopholes in patent law. It would require anyone suing for patent infringement to: specifically name which part of a patent is being infringed upon, the principal business of the suing party, and the actual company or person suing the business.
Lodsys is said to be a “patent monetization firm” with “no assets or employees other than a few patents.” The company asked Moore to mail the money overseas, presumably so the company doesn’t have to pay U.S. taxes. It’s an issue that’s stifling the innovation economy, Moore says, which is what Arlington is trying to grow.
“It’s harming startups and small businesses, and, big picture, it’s hurting the economy,” he said.
Beyer is one of the newest representatives of the 47-member House Committee on Natural Resources, chaired by Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah). During his campaign last year, Beyer made the environment a chief platform, and he told ARLnow.com this afternoon that he asked to be placed on the natural resources committee.
“This is a great platform for continuing the discussion on climate change,” Beyer said. “Every day we seem to discover some new climate change fact that should inform the legislation we pass.”
Beyer campaigned on instituting a carbon tax, which will be introduced soon by Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.). Beyer said he will be “an early co-sponsor” of the legislation, which is likely doomed to fail in the firmly Republican-controlled House of Representatives.
“I have no illusions, I’m a freshman in the minority,” Beyer said about his ability to get his pet legislation passed. “I think there will be some playing defense, but there will be some things we can do together too. Trying to continue to surface basic scientific facts, basic data observation points about what’s happening in the climate worldwide. They don’t have to have a significant label on anything, but they’ll hopefully lead all of us to good decisions.”
The ranking member of the 21 Democrats on the natural resources committee is Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), who said in a press release he’s “tremendously pleased to welcome” Beyer to the committee.
“Rep. Beyer joins our committee as a welcome and established voice for conservation who understands the importance of protecting our natural resources and public lands, including the Chesapeake Bay,” Grijalva said. “Environmental allies like Clean Water Action support him because of his commitment to address climate change, promote renewable energy and stand up to Republican deregulation schemes. Those priorities are exactly what we need more of in this Congress, and I can’t wait to get started with him on our team.”
Beyer has requested to be placed on the subcommittee for the environment. He’ll also likely be placed on another House committee, and he believes it will either be the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology or the House Committee on Oversight and Government reform. Each, he said, would be an opportunity to impact the 8th District.
“The science, space and technology committee would be great because the National Science Foundation is moving to Alexandria and DARPA is in Arlington,” he said. “Oversight and government reform would be perfect because it has so much impact on the federal government.”
Beyer said he’s been texting Moran for advice — “Jim’s a dear friend,” he said — and hired five of Moran’s former staffers for his office in Capitol Hill, and two more for his district office. After less than two weeks in office, he’s already “been on the losing side of a lot of votes” and frustrated with the majority party’s actions so far.
“I hope the rest of the session isn’t like the first two weeks,” he said. “It seems to have been largely political symbolism, where the Republican majority has put bills up for passage confident they’ll pass, but probably with little confidence they’ll get through the Senate or the president will sign them.”
Photo courtesy the office of Rep. Don Beyer
Moran is a former college athlete, having played football at Holy Cross, and said in a press release that the current system is broken, neither sufficiently protecting the student athletes nor effectively regulating the schools’ allotment of funding.
“We know our intercollegiate athletic system is broken. Scandal after scandal in the news continues to undermine our faith in the integrity of the intercollegiate athletic system,” Moran said in the release. “Despite piecemeal efforts at reform, we still see gaps that leave our student athletes vulnerable, whether through due process or appropriate health protections.”
Moran is proposing a “Presidential Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics Reform,” which would be a “blue ribbon commission” that includes members of Congress, college sports and education experts.
The commission would be charged with reforming the NCAA which has come under fire in recent years for its handling of scandal investigations at Penn State and the University of Miami. The NCAA was also successfully sued by a group of former athletes who said the organization profited from their names, images and likenesses while illegally preventing the athletes from doing the same.
You can read Moran’s full press release after the jump. (more…)
AAA Thanksgiving Travel Forecast — About 1.1 million Washington area residents will travel 50 more more miles this Thanksgiving holiday, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic. That’s up 3.1 percent over 2013. About 90 percent of those travelers will journey to grandma’s house via automobile, AAA says. The lowest gas prices since Dec. 2010 are helping to drive some additional travel this year. [Reston Now]
What’s Next for the Pike? — Now that the streetcar is dead, articulated buses may be next for Columbia Pike. But that would require reinforcing the roadway and building a new bus depot. [Greater Greater Washington]
Beyer Joins ‘New Democrat Coalition’ — Arlington’s newly-elected representative in Congress, Don Beyer, has joined the House New Democrat Coalition, a group of pro-growth Democrats. [Blue Virginia]
Moran Laments Loss of Earmarks — Outgoing Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) says earmarks, while demonized by the media and some politicians, actually helped the legislative process. The loss of earmarks has slowed Congress to a crawl, Moran said. [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
The wallet went missing between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Sunday, on the 2600 block of Jefferson Davis Highway, according to Arlington County Police Department spokesman Lt. Kip Malcolm. Initial reports suggest police were searching for clues in the Holiday Inn hotel at 2650 Jefferson Davis Highway.
(An earlier version of this story cited incorrect information regarding the timing of the wallet going missing.)
There was little additional information available about the incident. Malcolm was unable to provide the name of the congresswoman or the circumstances surrounding how the wallet went missing.
“We can confirm that a congresswoman’s was possibly stolen,” he told ARLnow.com “We notified U.S. Capitol Police.”
U.S. Capitol Police have thus far not responded to a request for more information.
Photo via Google Maps
Here is Republican candidate for the 8th Congressional District Micah Edmond’s unedited response:
The congressional race in the 8th District to replace Jim Moran should be about your priorities and your future. You deserve a candidate that spends no time attacking anyone else, no time talking about their political party and no time looking backwards. Instead, you deserve a candidate that talks about an inclusive future. That’s specifically why I didn’t put a political party label on my campaign literature. I believe all that mattered was telling you my vision, my priorities, and my plan to achieve those priorities.
I believe leaders rise above party and should be measured by results rather than popularity or polls. While leaders should have common principles and values rooted in organizations like political parties, they should be willing to abandon party orthodoxy when it pushes for all or nothing extremes over a willingness to compromise on bi-partisan, practical solutions that achieve progress.
I got into this race last year because I was tired of partisanship that blocked results in Congress on both sides of the aisle. Both were willing to accept sequestration as a partisan political issue to campaign on in the mid-term elections rather than embrace a bi-partisan compromises like the President’s Simpson-Bowles Commission and Congress’ Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, both of which I was happy to serve on as a senior advisor. The failure to enact these compromises proves that while we have real, bi-partisan solutions, we lack real leaders willing to compromise and enact them.
So here is why I would like your vote.
- My vision — I want to make the American Dream achievable again for all people. I want to move past short-term fixes and enact annual budgets that control spending while making investments in our collective national and economic security. Fiscal conservatism and investments in the future are not mutually exclusive. I believe both are necessary to ensure we don’t mortgage away our future.
- Priorities — I want to enact a long-term budget that grows the economy and creates jobs by making regular investments in education, infrastructure and our national defense. I want immediate immigration reforms that transition un-documented workers into a legal status but does not include citizenship. And I want immediate changes that make healthcare more affordable and portable.
- Plan — I favor a 10-year budget plan along the lines of Simpson- Bowles. My plan achieves a 2:1 ratio of cuts to new revenue raised, balances the budget in 5 years and retires a third of the national debt in 10 years. My plan achieves this through four areas: (1) Tax relief for the middle class and small businesses, (2) Tax reform that closes corporate welfare loopholes and ends tax incentives that don’t focus on job creation, small business ownership, education, home ownership and research and development, (3) Entitlement reform that grandfathers the benefits for seniors and veterans either receiving or within a few years of receiving benefits while also enacting changes for all others that reflect the realities of a new labor force including life expectancy and recruiting and retention differences and (4) Enacting a 5-10% cut in federal discretionary spending over ten years that abandons sequestration in favor of allowing agency experts the flexibility to impose cuts.
I would be proud to have your vote and represent the whole 8th district. I have continued to make my campaign forward looking and inclusive. With your support, you can trust me to bring a new vision, a new voice and a new energy to making the American Dream achievable again for all people.
Please visit www.micahedmond.com for more information, or email me at email@example.com.
Here is Libertarian candidate for the 8th Congressional District Jeffrey Carson’s unedited response:
Simply put, you should vote for me because it’s in your best interest to do so.
(But you’re a Libertarian! Aren’t all Libertarians kooks?)
Let’s take a look at the issues, shall we? Let’s take a look at where we might see eye-to-eye. My guess is we’re going to agree on a whole lot more than you think.
Do we agree that it’s wrong to steal from future generations to pay for things today we can’t afford? Do we agree that our $17.9 trillion in debt is a problem we can’t continue to pretend doesn’t exist? Do we agree that it’s about time Congress got its act together and ran a balanced budget?
Do we agree that there’s no such thing as a free lunch, and that it’s wrong to print $ trillions out of thin air and hand it over to Wall Street in order to enrich the 1 percent at the expense of the 99 percent? Do we agree that it’s time we eliminated all forms of corporate welfare, and that the federal government should not be in the business of picking winners and losers or doling out favors to this industry or that one?
Do we agree that we shouldn’t constantly be picking fights around every corner of the globe, that putting our service members’ lives at risk for yet another war in the Middle East is not a good idea, and that (high-level) a foreign policy of non-interventionism — by way of free trade, smart diplomacy, and honest friendship — might just be the best way to go?
Do we agree that having the highest incarceration rate in the entire world is not something we Americans should be particularly proud of, and that it’s about time we stopped putting people in prison for using a substance? Do we agree that we should be treating drug use — and in particular, drug abuse — as a public health issue instead of a criminal one? Do we agree that the practice of civil asset forfeiture is about as unconstitutional as it gets and needs to be stopped immediately?
Do we agree that we shouldn’t have to worry about being spied upon by our own government? Do we agree that Benjamin Franklin was right when he said: “Those that give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”?
Do we agree that when it comes to our children’s education, parents, teachers, principals, school boards, and local communities should have (much) more of a say than Washington bureaucrats and labor unions?
Do we agree that the opportunity for a better life — the American Dream — should be available to those honest, hardworking people around the world who would choose to come to this great country to pursue it?
Do we agree that individuals and families tend to make better decisions than lobbyists and bureaucrats when it comes to our personal lives and financial affairs?
I’m betting we agree on a whole heck of a lot.
Einstein once said: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.”
If you’re concerned about the direction our country is headed — as I am — and if you want to see meaningful change in Washington — as I do — maybe it’s time you tried something new at the ballot box. Maybe it’s time you voted for a Libertarian.
I really am one of the good guys, folks, and I need your help. I’m asking for your support. I’m asking for your vote. I’m asking you to help me restore some sanity to Washington.
Here is Democratic candidate for the 8th Congressional District Don Beyer’s unedited response:
I was taught growing up that we are each put on this earth to build something larger than ourselves and to serve others. It is with this in mind that I am a candidate for Congress.
I have a proven record on many issues and across many interest groups. And if elected, I will work diligently with constituents and fellow members of Congress to make principled, constructive progress locally, nationally and internationally.
I have been a businessman in Northern Virginia for 40 years, and led the transition team for President Obama at the Department of Commerce. I was Virginia’s Lieutenant Governor for two terms and President Obama’s ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein for four years. I have a long record as a leader in many community nonprofit organizations as well. And I am also the father of four and a grandfather of two.
I want to take all of these experiences to the House of Representatives and, with your help, be an agent for change on the issues that matter most.
I will push for a progressive carbon tax, because I believe climate change is the existential crisis of our time. When I was ambassador, I authorized a carbon footprint assessment of the U.S. embassy, which was a first for a U.S. embassy. Then we reduced it by 40 percent. As a lifelong hiker who has hiked half of the Appalachian Trail and aspires to complete it, I will do all I can to enhance and protect our green spaces in this urban and suburban congressional district.
I will work for gun safety and stand up to the NRA, so that we can put an end to the plague of gun violence. I want to enact reasonable legislation like enhanced background checks, closing the gun show loophole, and banning high capacity magazines. I am stunned that, in the wake of so many gun deaths and tragedies, our country still has not passed such basic measures.
I will always fight for reproductive rights and to keep the government out of personal decisions. As Lieutenant Governor, I blocked parental consent bills dozens of times and I will continue that record in Congress.
I will be an advocate for federal employees, who have borne too much of the country’s budget struggles. We need to make sure they receive the pay increases they are due and get respect, rather than disdain, for their service to the public.
I will apply my business acumen and credentials toward raising the minimum wage and helping the local, as well as the broader Virginia and U.S. economies. Too many working families are falling behind. The middle class is shrinking as the gap between the wealthiest and the poor is growing. I want to do all I can to help these families.
I have spent countless hours volunteering for local and state nonprofits, and the experience informs my understanding of the needs of the most vulnerable in our region. For fourteen years, I chaired Jobs for Virginia Graduates, the state’s most successful high school dropout prevention program. I also spent nearly a decade on the board of the D.C. Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. And I was president for three years of Youth for Tomorrow, Joe Gibbs’ home for troubled adolescents.
Our nation was founded with the ideal that everyone deserves a fair chance. This means equal pay for equal work, the right to love whom you choose to love without discrimination, and immigration laws that keep alive the American dream. My years of service abroad representing our country inspire me to fight for the freedoms and rights that make our diverse country great.
I am honored to be your Democratic nominee. I hope to have the opportunity to fight for you in Congress. I ask for your vote in the November 4th congressional election.
This month, we asked the candidates from each competitive race on the ballot on Election Day to write a sub-750 word essay describing why Arlington residents should vote for them on Nov. 4.
Here is Independent candidate for the 8th Congressional District Gwendolyn Beck’s unedited response:
If you disapprove of Congress, vote for me, Gwendolyn Beck. There are no Independents in the U.S. House of Representatives, and this is the only way to break the dysfunctional gridlock of the two-party system. I am only beholden to you!
I am fiscally responsible, socially inclusive and believe we need a strong national defense. Fiscally responsible means knowing our economic and social policies affect our future and determine our individual and cultural prosperity. We have plenty of money, we just don’t always use it in the right way. Socially inclusive means that everyone matters and should be treated with respect. I will continue to fight for women’s rights, especially our right to choose what is best for our own bodies and for pay equality. I will fight for marriage equality and acceptance of the joy in loving whomever you choose. And, we need a strong defense to ensure we influence the world, rather than the world influencing us.
Running a country as large as the United States of America is complex and it takes many people to successfully accomplish not only defining goals, but putting them into action in a way the makes sense to all of our citizens. As everyone agrees, Congress is broken. We can’t go on like this, and the only way I see to build badly needed coalitions is to not be beholden to one of the two very powerful political parties. If you vote for a Democrat or Republican, no matter how good their resume looks, the dysfunction and gridlock will continue.
Badly needed coalitions can be built, and my campaign has already accomplished this goal as we are made up of disappointed Democrats, moderate Republicans and “middle minded” Independents working together and working hard to achieve our main goal: doing what is right for America.
I strongly believe we need to stop trying balance our budget on the backs of our students, federal workers, military, especially the retirees as a “Promise is a Promise” and pensions should be sacred. We need to focus on solutions to our environment that are cutting-edge, like Fuel Cell Vehicles that have zero emissions and energy storage solutions to enable solar and wind power to flourish [my Democrat opponent says we should tax carbon (to my relief he'll add "emissions" once in a while), but this is an old concept and only the beginning of fixing the problems our planet faces]. We need to fix the Affordable Care Act, immigration, and the tax code. We need to create quality jobs and ensure an excellent education is available to our youth.
As a business woman, I have had two successful careers, one in the financial industry and one in tourism. I rose to Manager of National Sales at Eastern Airlines, and when they ceased operations, moved into Finance in U.S. Government Debt — I understand how our debt works. I’ve written a consumer financial education book and appeared on PBS and Lifetime. I volunteer for the Arlington Agency on Aging, am on the Board of Directors for “Ladies America” and “We Will Survive Cancer.” Our congressional campaign color is “hot pink” to promote cancer awareness. I am a first-generation American on my mother’s side, and about fifth-generation American on my father’s side.
I want you to vote for me because you agree a we don’t have to continue on this downward spiral. I want you to vote for me because you agree America can be a better place. And, I want you to vote for me because there is no other way to accomplish change than to send an Independent to the U.S. House of Representatives. Money doesn’t vote: people vote! Virginia, please take a chance on me.
(Updated at 1:45 p.m.) Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) says he “had to stand up for Arlington” this morning in his office with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) who rankled folks in Arlington over the line in her book calling the county a “soulless suburb.”
Warner wrote in a tweet “All is forgiven” and thanked Gillibrand for “being a class act.” He posted three photos, including one of him and Gillibrand holding an “Arlington, We Got Soul” T-shirt.
“Senator Gillibrand says she meant no offense,” Warner told ARLnow.com in an email, “and she certainly was a good sport about the whole thing.”
Warner Press Secretary Beth Wanamaker said Gillibrand came into their office “and was immediately apologetic to all of us. She said she had no idea that she would cause such a kerfuffle.”
The shirt is produced by Fairfax-based CustomInk, and it can be bought online here for $20 each. All of the funds from T-shirt purchases will go directly to the Arlington Food Assistance Center, per the T-shirt seller’s website.
Photos courtesy Sen. Mark Warner’s office
Within eight hours of our article’s first publication, Gillibrand apologized for the remark (which was buried in the pages of her new book, “Off The Sidelines.”) But that didn’t stop the debate over whether Gillibrand was off-base or on-target in her assessment of Arlington.
Among those weighing in: Ben Adler, a former New Yorker and a writer at the environmental news website Grist.org. Penning a piece for the Washington Post’s online PostEverything op-ed section, Adler said Gillibrand shouldn’t apologize.
Some excerpts from that article:
For one year I worked at an office in Arlington, Virginia. There were virtually no restaurants that were not chains. Everything was crowded at peak lunch hour but completely empty by 3 p.m. and closed by the time I left work.
Kirsten Gillibrand… correctly identified Arlington in her new memoir as a “soulless suburb.” That’s exactly what most of my friends who have lived in D.C. would call it. In fact, when I was recently trying to describe the cultural vacuity of the “Williamsburg Edge,” a new apartment tower in Brooklyn, I called it, “Arlington on the East River.” My friend who lived in Washington laughed knowingly. He required no further explanation.
Arlington… lacks a physical center, a public space like Dupont Circle, where buskers can play music and activists can make speeches. A centrally located, and well-designed park — with facilities for both active and passive recreation such as basketball courts, chess tables, and benches — would go a long way towards giving Arlington a soul. Most important, unlike all of Arlington’s misbegotten little plazas, it has to be designed to draw passersby in and to engage with the streets around it.
That prompted at least one notable D.C. resident to call foul.
Perhaps the best judges of whether Arlington County does or does not lack a soul are those who actually live here. So what do you think?
Flickr pool photo by Alex Erkiletian
Sen. Gillibrand Apologizes to Arlington — “Sorry, Arlington, didn’t mean to hurt your feelings,” New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D) said via Twitter last night, following ARLnow.com’s scoop that she called the county a “soulless suburb” in her new book. County Board member Walter Tejada, meanwhile, couldn’t quite understand why Gillibrand didn’t like living here. “I’m not sure what she was referring to,” he told the Washington Post. “Maybe somebody got in front of her at the supermarket or something like that.” [Washington Post]
Back to U. Va. for Sullivan Campaign Manager – Washington-Lee High School alumnus Jarrod Nagurka is heading back to the University of Virginia, having spent the summer running the successful election campaign of Delegate-elect Rip Sullivan. Nagurka, 20, also served as political director for Del. Patrick Hope’s unsuccessful bid for Congress. “I learned and matured more during that experience than I ever would have in a semester at school,” he said of the campaign. [InsideNova]
Report: Arlington Man Gave Robbery Victim Cash Back — The victim of a robbery in eastern Pennsylvania says the alleged perp — a 38-year-old man from Arlington — gave him him $5 back before running off with his wallet. The robbery occurred outside of a Wawa store near Allentown. The suspect, Timothy Smith, seemed “almost… remorseful,” the victim said. [Lehigh Valley Live]
Flickr pool photo by erkiletian
(Updated at 9:50 a.m.) New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D) is no fan of living in Arlington, apparently.
In her new book, “Off The Sidelines,” which is due out today, Gillibrand recounts her move from New York to the D.C. area — to Arlington, specifically — when she was first elected to the House of Representatives. It was a move Gillibrand would come to regret.
From the book:
Our move to Washington was hard — on me and my marriage. I had a new job; [my husband] Jonathan didn’t; and we were trying to find our legs with a toddler in a new city. We started having the same argument over and over. I’d say, “What’s wrong?”
Jonathan would say, “I have no job and I hate D.C.”
I appreciated Jonathan’s viewpoint. We lived in a soulless suburb. It wasn’t the right place for us, and we needed a change. I could see that, but it took me at least a year to figure out that racing 100 miles an hour to do my job well was leaving no time for us… Eventually we moved from Arlington, Virginia, to Capitol Hill, and Jonathan found a job he liked.
Update at 6:00 p.m. — In a tweet, Gillibrand says she’s sorry.
Sorry, Arlington, didn't mean to hurt your feelings. #OffTheSidelines
— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) September 9, 2014
(Updated on 9/6/14) Bipartisanship or libertarianism. Those were the two primary messages from the half-dozen congressional candidates participating in Tuesday’s Arlington Civic Federation candidates forum.
Democrat Don Beyer, the odds-on favorite in the race to replace retiring Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.), stuck to the “proven, principled progressive” theme of his successful primary campaign, while also promising to work across the aisle.
“Anything I need to get done in my first term will likely have to be done with Republicans,” Beyer said, acknowledging the GOP’s majority in the House and potential future majority in the Senate. “This is a very important reason why I want to run… I want to go there as a strong Northern Virginia Democrat to work across party lines.”
Beyer, a former Virginia lieutenant governor and U.S. ambassador under President Obama, also touted his business acumen as co-owner of his eponymous car dealership chain.
“We need to build a new American economy, based on the deepest possible investments in human capital,” he said, while listing a litany of his progressive positions: support for a national carbon tax, tighter gun controls focusing on criminals and the mentally ill, making “improvements” to Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act), universal pre-kindergarten, marriage equality and immigration reform.
Republican Micah Edmond, a former Marine Corps officer, said bipartisanship and a balanced budget would be his first order of business in Congress.
“I see my campaign as a mission to make the American dream achievable again for all people,” he said. “If elected, my top priority will be to work with Republicans and Democrats alike to [enact] a 10-year economic plan that ends sequestration, allows us to pay down our debt responsibly, balances our budget, reforms our tax code, strengthens our entitlement system and allows us to… [make] direct investment into… education, infrastructure and national security.”
“I’m working hard to earn your vote,” Edmond told the packed crowd. A South Carolina native who served as a senior staffer for members of the House Armed Services Committee after leaving the Marine Corps, Edmond described himself as a “pragmatic problem solver.”
Jeffrey Carson, a Libertarian whose website sports an illustration of a star-spangled porcupine, was true to form as the evening’s prickly firebrand.
A former U.S. Army captain, Carson decried the nation’s “meddlesome, haphazard and dangerous interventionist foreign policy; our failed and unconstitutional drug war; NSA domestic spying; militarized police forces and the erosion of our civil liberties.” He accused Edmond of talking about lower taxes while proposing spending hikes rather than spending cuts, then accused Beyer of ignoring the problem of the national debt altogether.
Carson said he would “strip Congress of its power to overspend” by passing a business cycle-balanced budget amendment to stimulate the economy.
“We continue to allow our politicians to continue kicking the can down the road for another year, another election cycle, another generation,” he said. “Is it scary to face these problems head on? You bet.”
Gerard Blais, a candidate under the banner of the Independent Green party, espoused many of the libertarian ideals of Carson, with a pro-transit and social spending twist. He kept his remarks brief in comparison to his fellow candidates.
“I was inspired to run when, working as an intelligence analyst for the U.S. government, I noticed our flawed strategies continuing to fail abroad,” Blais said in his opening statement. “That’s why I would support an immediate pullout from all wars of aggression and choice abroad. I would also support drug legalization… a massive increase in public transportation, universal healthcare and an elimination of the federal income tax on the first $100,000 of income.”
Blais added a free college education and immigration reform to the list of policies he would pursue.
“As an IT worker, I enjoy a very bloated salary” because we’re not allowing enough skilled workers in, he said. “More immigrants will pay more U.S. taxes.”
Gwendolyn Beck, who’s running for Moran’s seat as an independent, said she wants to help facilitate compromise between the two parties.
“I think everyone is disappointed with the gridlock in Congress,” she said. “The Republicans and the Democrats are not talking to each other. I decided to run because I believe that we need to build badly needed coalitions in Congress.”
Beck, who lives near Rosslyn and describes herself as “fiscally responsible, socially inclusive,” said she is “very concerned about the waste of taxpayer money” and wants to fight for the rights of “seniors, children, women — everybody.”
Also participating in the candidates forum was Libertarian U.S. Senate candidate Robert Sarvis. Democratic incumbent Mark Warner and Republican Ed Gillespie declined their invitations.
Rep. Jim Moran is 69 years old and thrice-divorced, with the last split leaving him nearly broke. Moran reported no assets or liabilities in his financial disclosure report in 2010, in the middle of his divorce with businesswoman LuAnn Bennett, according to The Washington Post. He took home his congressional salary and a $10,000 teaching fee from George Mason University.
No longer as strapped for cash, the former stockbroker says he has no plans to retire from working when he leaves Congress, and will seek a high-paying job.
“It’s a little embarrassing that I don’t own my own home or even my own car,” Moran says. “I need to make a little money because I’ve got four grandkids and my daughter is getting married. I’d like to have something to leave to them.”
Moran can’t conduct job negotiations while he’s still in Congress and said he can’t speculate much on what his next move will be. But he has two criteria, in addition to being paid a comfortable salary: doing something “meaningful” and “purposeful,” and working with people “I like, respect and [who] share my values.”
Though he’ll be a septuagenarian just a handful of months after he leaves office, Moran doesn’t act or look the part of a doddering senior.
“I still have the physical and mental capacity to take on a new career,” he says, “so I think it’s time to do that.”
The two men seeking to replace Moran in the Nov. 4 general election, Democrat Don Beyer and Republican Micah Edmond, couldn’t be more different.
Beyer, 64, is the heavy favorite in the race and has Moran’s endorsement. He’s a former lieutenant governor, a former U.S. ambassador to Switzerland and the owner of four Volvo dealerships that bear his name. During the heated Democratic primary, during which as many as 12 candidates competed, Beyer’s opponents criticized him for running ads for his car dealerships on local news stations, including Del. Patrick Hope (D-47). “Nobody should be allowed to buy an election,” he said.
Edmond, 40, is a Jewish and African-American Marine Corps veteran and former congressional staffer. He was chosen as the Republican candidate in a nominating convention. Described by Patrick Murray, the Republican challenger to Moran in the past two elections, as a candidate with “a lot of energy,” Edmond says Moran hasn’t tried nearly as hard in recent years.
“There seems to be no focus. It’s like he’s just there,” Edmond said in a phone interview with ARLnow.com. “That happens when people serve a long time… People just got really sick and tired of not having a real choice and a real race. Every two years, the Republican party was just throwing someone up there and it hasn’t been competitive.”
Edmond said he wants to focus on advocating for minorities and immigrants who he feels have been under-represented under Moran’s leadership.
“This district is now about 43 percent minority, and he doesn’t represent that diversity,” Edmond says. “Since I came [to Alexandria] in ’98, the minority community has just been shocked at how the level of influence and access to things has shrunk, and I don’t think Jim Moran has been a voice for that.”
Beyer’s lone criticism of Moran’s tenure was the remark Moran made in 2003 about the “Jewish community’s” push for the Iraq War. Outside of that gaffe, Beyer said he can only hope to fill Moran’s shoes.
“People talk a lot about what we’re going to miss,” Beyer told ARLnow.com from his home in Old Town Alexandria. “The defense contractor market is really going to miss his appropriations chairmanship. Animal rights advocates are going to miss him and federal employees are going to miss him.
“I don’t have any unrealistic expectations that I’m going to step into his shoes,” Beyer said. He said he’s trying to avoid “measuring the drapes” before the election, but if elected, “we have to be authentic, we have to be who we are. Forty years in business, as an ambassador and lieutenant governor have positioned me to hit the ground running better. We’re thinking about how do I be more than just another freshman? How can I have a greater influence?”
Although Beyer isn’t measuring the drapes — and Republicans certainly aren’t counting themselves out, considering it’s the first time they’re not facing an incumbent for more than two decades — most in the area consider the seat Beyer’s to lose.
That group includes Moran. In all of his campaigns, Moran never once called Beyer and asked for a campaign donation. Beyer was puzzled and bemused by that – he would have happily donated, and did anyway — while Moran said he didn’t call because “Don’s just such a nice guy.”
Moran said he thinks that quality will serve Beyer well if elected.
“I know he’s going to listen to all of the district, not just the first in line,” Moran said. “Don’s going to be terrific. I’m hoping he can raise enough money that he can move into the leadership.” (more…)