Moran Discusses Political Origins As Election Approaches

by Aaron Kraut September 14, 2012 at 11:00 am 3,756 41 Comments

Editor’s Note: We will profile Patrick Murray, the Republican challenger for Congress, next week.

Rep. Jim Moran’s conversion from “hardcore economic libertarian” to solidly liberal Democrat began in 1969, more than two decades before his first turn representing Virginia’s 8th District.

As Moran, 67, seeks his twelfth consecutive term amid a divisively bitter atmosphere on Capitol Hill that has severely stunted legislative progress, he spoke about the experience that has informed much of his 33-year political career.

“I was fairly conservative when I graduated from college,” said Moran, who was eyeing a career as a stockbroker when he left the all-male College of the Holy Cross in his native Massachusetts. “I was always pretty progressive on civil rights issues, but from an economic standpoint, I was quite conservative. I used to read Ayn Rand. I thought that life was simple.”

He took a job as a budget officer at the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, during the Nixon administration, to take advantage of a federal program that helped pay for his graduate education.

At the department, Moran was sent to the Rio Grande Valley in Texas to save the agency money by consolidating migrant worker programs. He found laborers in a “cycle of poverty,” brought on by loans from farmers who would not pay them enough to pay the loans off. He encountered a Kindergarten-aged girl who suffered corporal punishment for blurting out an answer in Spanish during school.

Speaking Spanish was forbidden at that time in the Texas school system.

“That offended me,” Moran said. “It totally conflicted on my sense of what’s right and the way things are to work.”

Moran said he was escorted out of a state Board of Education meeting after speaking out about the unfairness of allowing corporal punishment while prohibiting the use of Spanish. He went back to Stan Pottinger, the head of the agency’s civil rights division and set up an office of migrant farmers at Health, Education, and Welfare.

“It showed me that you could make a difference. That’s why I got involved in politics, why I’ve stayed in politics,” Moran said. “It’s why I became somebody who recognizes the world is not fair and that we should be spending our energies and influence toward achieving some form of economic justice and equality of opportunity.

“The world is not how Ayn Rand said it was.”

Moran, who recently divorced from third wife LuAnn Bennett, lives with his son Patrick in a two-bedroom apartment in Shirlington.

He said campaigning “energizes” him, and he intends to remain the district’s Congressional representative for the foreseeable future.

“I’m too liberal to run statewide, so I really can’t go anywhere from here and I’m a little too conservative for leadership in the Democratic party,” he said. “I’ve largely grown with my constituency. If my values and principals were discordant with the values and principals of the district, I would not continue to serve.”

His senior position on the House Appropriations Committee provides him influence on the awarding of federal funds and contracts.

He is the ranking member of the subcommittee on the Interior and the Environment, an issue he said has grown nearer and dearer to him. He also is a senior member of the subcommittee on Defense, which has allowed him to steer funding to the defense contract-heavy 8th District.

Moran has also grown more interested in education issues. In April, he introduced legislation that would provide funding to train teachers who work with autistic students, an initiative that came out of Arlington PTA organizations.

He is facing Independent challenger Jason Howell, Independent Green challenger Janet Murphy and Republican challenger Patrick Murray, who he beat by almost 25 points in the 2010 election.

He cites a “60 percent cut in education funding” and the potential elimination of head start programming as two of his foremost concerns with Wisconsin Congressman and Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s budget plan.

Ryan, Moran said, reminds him of a younger version of himself, before he took a left-leaning stance on school busing, abortion and other social issues in the mid 1970’s.

Moran, who hasn’t won less than 60 percent of the Eighth District vote since 2004, said much of the focus of his campaign will be on re-electing President Barack Obama and supporting democratic Senate candidate and former Gov. Tim Kaine.

“I’d like to think that after November, we’ll have less extremism and more pragmatism, but I don’t know,” Moran said. “We will lose the Senate if Tim Kaine isn’t elected and I think the most radical parts of the agenda will be enacted. A lot of it is going to come down to the turnout in Northern Virginia.”

  • George

    Moran has been in elected office for far too long. Please remove him so he can get a job as one of the people who he claims to support at a gas station or Burger King. Sadly his pension from his eon of sucking off the taxpayer has given him a retirement you and I can only dream of.

    I guess it does pay to be a professional liar…politician.

    • drax

      Great argument! Full of specific, cogent details!

      • johnny b

        Here’s a few specifics.

        Be sure to read about him bullying the little black kid (8 year old ‘carjacker’)…I remember when that hit the local news…it happened near a friend’s house, so it grabbed my attention.


        • sunflower

          nobody’s perfect!

        • Ballston Gardens resident

          The kid deserved it. He was trying to steal Moran’s car. The kid’s brother taught the kid how to do it. The mother of the kid defended the kid and blamed Moran for bothering the kid.. Great family values.

    • Mary-Austin

      Why don’t Republicans actually run candidate that can win if they want to see Moran gone?

      • Bluemontsince1961

        Exactly! I’d be glad to see a new Democrat replace Moran if that’s what it takes.

        • Tumblebum

          I’ll drink to that.

      • SomeGuy

        Even if they ran a Democrat, I suspect that when they put the ‘R’ next to his name in the general, it just wouldn’t fly with Northern VA voters.

    • bobbytiger

      Damn. And I thought I was the only Republican in Arlington County.

  • JnA

    Infomercials – just what we don’t need on local blogs.

    • malaka

      So I assume you complained about all the articles about restaurants, wine shops and open houses then too…….of is it just “infomercials” about politicians whose ideas you don’t share?

      • Quoth the Raven

        I don’t get comments like that. If this is a blog about Arlington, how is a story about Arlington’s representative in Congress not relevant?

        • JnA

          Because it’s written, produced, and directed by Eighth District Democratic Party Productions, that’s why.

  • drax

    Yep, a visit to Texas will convert most people.

    • DCBuff

      Great argument! Full of specific, cogent details!

      • Bluemontsince1961


      • drax

        Yes, it is, actually.

        • xard

          No, it isn’t.

          • drax

            What part did you not understand that required additional facts?

          • SomeGuy

            I’ve been to Texas. I didn’t come back from there thinking like Jim Moran or behaving corruptly (http://reason.com/archives/2000/11/06/an-election-eve-corruption-sto). So if you could explain why a person would be converted to thinking like Jim Moran and engaging in corruption after a trip to Texas, I think that’d be a more “specific, cogent” argument.

  • Lukas Halim

    1) Public education funding will not be cut by 60 percent under Romney/Ryan. The cuts they have proposed are quite minor.

    2) The constitution does not give the federal government the power to fund public education

    3) The work of James Tooley demonstrates that private schools are better at providing low-cost education for the poor. This is true even in the developing world.

    • DCBuff

      1) Moran wasn’t referring to Romney/Ryan, but Ryan’s proposed budget, which goes after most entitlement programs with a chainsaw.

      2) I’m trying to find where Moran referred to the Constitution (presumably you are referencing the U.S. Constitution, which should be referred to with a capital “C”). As for the “power to fund public education,” the Constitution gives the Federal Government broad powers to “provide for…the general welfare.” I consider universal education to be pretty much as general welfare as one can get.

      3) Not worth it.

    • Cogent Detail

      I’d love to the specifics of the Romney tax plan you have access to.
      He has my vote as long as he leaves tax loop holes so I don’t have to pay money to the country I love so I can send my kids to private school with the “poor”.

      • Steve

        Do you love the government? Or the country? You do realize there is a difference right? Precision in language. It’s important.

    • drax

      If you think feds funding education is unconstitutional, you support a 100 percent cut.

      Most poor people don’t go to private schools (I’ll let you figure out why). Unless you want to give them tuition from the federal government. But wait, that’s unconstitutional!

      You’re full of contradictions.

    • malaka

      Ah yes..James Tooley…professor at the University of Newcastle (a UK government funded public school) with a PHD from the University of London and an MSC from Sussex – all public funded UK schools. So Public Education was OK for him… just not the poor. Are you advvocating some kind of educational Apartheid? You think what he found in the slums and shanty towns of India is what our education system should aspire to?

    • Sherriff Gonna Getcha

      I think Tooley was taking Pink Floyd a bit too far

  • Buckwheat

    Moron has been a civil servant his entire career! He might have read Ayn Rand, but who is he kidding. I’ve read James Carville, but I don’t pretend to be liberal.

    I grew up in Texas. The Rio Grand Valley has been heavily populated with Hispanics since I was very young. Must of been an isolated incident for corporal punishment for speaking Spanish. Nice story though Jim!

    How can he even run for office? I thought he said he was penniless a couple of weeks ago.

  • QP Doll

    Whether I do or don’t agree with Cong. Moran, I don’t think anyone should be able to be elected to 12 CONSECUTIVE TERMS. How can anyone, on either side, claim to know how life is in the real world when they haven’t held a real job for what, 24 years?

    • brif

      So voters should not be able to vote for moran because QP Doll thinks he’s been in office too long?

  • DynaFlash 8

    I see that his pie-hole is as large as his son’s.

    I wish it would close occasionally and conserve the world’s supply of sanctimony.


    • DCBuff

      Gosh, I don’t even like Moran and I am offended by your shot at his son. WTH does someone’s family have to do with anything?

      • DynaFlash 8


        More sanctimony was just squandered …

  • novasteve

    Nice to know my congressman has similar views about Jews as do the people currently attacking embassies, burning down KFCs, etc.

  • Id

    And this is not the 60s anymore either.

  • Yorktown

    Thank goodness for Jason Howell.

    “I used to read Ayn Rand.” Wonder what on earth he’s reading now. Surely not the new APS transportation plan submitted by MPS.

  • PikeLatin

    Moran… not replying to any letters.. sent to his office….need I say more

  • Kolohe

    “If my values and principals were discordant with the values and principals of the district, I would not continue to serve.”

    I’m sure there are a few head administrators of public schools in Northern Virginia that don’t see eye to eye with the Congressman.


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