Congressional Candidates Spar in Civic Federation Debate

by ARLnow.com September 8, 2010 at 5:23 am 2,402 13 Comments

At a candidate forum sponsored by the Arlington Civic Federation, Republican Patrick Murray kicked off the post-Labor Day campaign season with an aggressive assault on the economic and spending record of ten-term incumbent Democratic congressman Jim Moran, previewing what will likely be a spirited two months of campaigning.

“Congress… is full of career politicians who are addicted to spending your taxpayer dollars and who will say and do anything to get re-elected,” Murray said in his opening remarks. “At the heart of that, ladies and gentleman, is my opponent, Mr. Moran.”

“For 20 years, he has spent taxpayer dollars… and what has it gotten us?” Murray asked. “We’ve got deficits as far as the eye can see. We’ve got unemployment that continues to go up. We’ve got $13 trillion of debt.”

Moran readily admitted that he has used his seniority on the House Appropriations Committee to steer money to the 8th District. But he said the money has made life better here — primarily by producing jobs.

“I earmark a lot of money through the appropriations process,” Moran said. “I do support federal spending, and I support the federal government… I’m doing everything I can to keep federal facilities here.”

Moran noted that Arlington has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country and has recently been named a one of the most “livable” communities in the nation.

Later, Murray took a shot at a television appearance in which Moran said the economy had recovered.

“Jim just doesn’t get it. The other day on Hardball with Chris Matthews, he [said] ‘I don’t know why everyone is so upset… the economy is recovered,'” Murray said to cackling laughter among his supporters. “On what planet has it recovered?”

During a question and answer session with Civic Federation delegates, Moran was asked about a glossy, 16-page newsletter his congressional office mailed out over the summer at taxpayer expense.

Moran said the mailing cost between $100,000 and $200,000 and helped to explain two important legislative issues: health care reform and financial regulatory reform.

“It seems to me when you spend money on educating your constituents as best you can, it’s not an inappropriate way to spend money,” he said.

Murray pounced on the mailer issue, joking that when he received in the mail it he thought it was “a quarterly stock report from Goldman Sachs.”

Murray, a retired Army colonel and Iraq war veteran, was later asked about his lack of involvement in local civic activism.

“I’ve been a little busy serving my country all over the world,” he replied. “Listen, I’m not a politician, I’m running because I love this country.”

Moran, the former mayor of Alexandria, said experience matters.

“I don’t believe the U.S. Congress is an entry-level position,” Moran quipped, to derisive laughter from Murray supporters. “I would have never run for Congress until I had proven myself on a local level.”

(This, one of several outbursts of laughter and loudly-whispered comments, prompted the moderator to step in and demand the audience be respectful of the candidates.)

Murray seemed more poised, polished and comfortable compared to his prior debate performances. The one time he appeared uncomfortable during Tuesday night’s debate was while answering a question about the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision.

“I don’t spend a whole lot of time worrying about ‘pro this’ or ‘pro that,'” said Murray, who previously stated he’s pro-choice but then shied away from the position during the primary. “This is not a key critical issue.”

Ultimately, Murray said the abortion question should be decided on the state level.

Moran said he’s unabashedly pro-choice and said that abortions should be not only legal but affordable. Both Moran and Murray did say, however, that the number of abortions performed in the U.S. should be kept to a minimum.

Tuesday’s congressional debate also featured a third participant, Independent Green candidate Ron Fisher.

Fisher blasted the war in Afghanistan as “illegal” and “foolish,” said he supports abortion rights, and called the current Congress a “pretend government.”

  • Anthony

    Does Mr. Murray really think he has a chance in the 8th District? Does he realize he doesn’t have the votes?

    • TGEoA

      So true. Moran will still win even if he chugs a pitcher at WoW and then slaps his wife in the kisser.

      • BoredHouseWife

        The only beer chugging will be in The Grim Guzzler.

    • Wayne Kubicki

      Was the 8th made even more “Dem friendly” than it had been in the last redistricting after the 2000 census? Yes.

      Is it difficult ground for a Republican? Certainly.

      Would it be an upset if Cong. Moran lost in November? For sure.

      But, OTOH, is an entrenched incumbent ever defeated without credible opposition? No.

      Should all Congressional seats always be contested races? Definitely!

      Is Patrick Murray one of the best candidates the Republicans have run against Cong. Moran in years? Yes – and if you weren’t at the debate last night, catch the replay on cable, and see if you don’t agree with me.

      • MB

        Such a credible candidate he had to pack the place with supporters who either aren’t from Arlington, or don’t care enough about local gov’t (you know, the one the GOP is always saying should take care of things) to stick around for the school and county board debates. The mass exodus of (loud and disrespectful) Murray supporters was rather telling about the state of Republicans in Arlington.

      • Anthony

        From the Heritage Foundation website: “Kelly is responsible for developing and executing the department’s Targeted Education strategy on priority issues, advancing the Heritage principles beyond the Washington Beltway, and fostering coalitions in the nation’s capital. Kelly worked for a decade on Capitol Hill for Rep. Jim Ryun (R-KS), including six years as Chief of Staff. He earned a B.S. in political science, history and economics from Wesleyan University and a J.D. from Regent University School of Law.”

        Congressman Ryun was once voted the most conservative of all. Mr. Kelly is not the type of moderate Republican he may pretend to be. In fact, his campaign materials don’t mention that he works for The Heritage Foundation. But we know better. With these connections, Mr. Kelly will never win in the 8th District.

        • Anthony

          I meant “in Arlington County”, as Kelly is running for County Board.

        • JR

          well – you might think that someone who pushes little kids down to the ground wouldn’t have a chance of winning a Congressional seat… but Mr. Moran proves that not to be true every two years.

          anything is possible…

  • Let’s Be Free

    Way to stay ahead, way ahead of the Sun Gazette on campaign coverage. Congratulations and keep up the good work!

  • Bort

    I understand that the 8th is a democrat stronghold, but can’t we get someone in office who isn’t so smug about it? Moran’s condescending tone and flippant use of taxpayer dollars for a self promotion campaign is nauseating at best. It’s time for Moran to retire and let a more reasonable democrat run for the seat.

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