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Incumbent Rep. Jim Moran (D), whose eighth congressional district includes Arlington, will take the stage tonight with the men hoping to unseat him in the fall.

Republican primary opponents Matthew Berry and Patrick Murray are expected to participate in tonight’s debate, as is Independent-Green party candidate Ron Fisher. ABC7 reporter Scott Thuman will moderate.

The debate is sponsored by the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce in partnership with a number of other local chambers of commerce. Tickets are $35 for Chamber members, and $45 for everyone else.

It will take place at the Ritz Carlton in Pentagon City from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

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A new radio ad from one of the Republicans hoping to challenge Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) in November accuses the long-time congressman of being “corrupt.”

It’s the first broadcast spot launched by the campaign of Matthew Berry, who’s running in the upcoming eighth district primary.

The ad portrays a couple discussing a campaign mailer from Berry.

“Ugh, Moran, he’s corrupt and doesn’t represent anyone but himself,” one of the actors says. “Moran’s answer to everything is ‘more, more, more’ — more borrowing, more spending, more taxes and more government intervention in more sectors of our economy.”

Later, the other actor says of Berry: “He’s right on the issues and understands that voters like us are sick of politics as usual.”

The spot will air during conservative talk shows, a campaign spokesperson said.

On his campaign blog, Berry said the ad fulfills his promise to “wage an aggressive effort to unseat Jim Moran.”

“I look forward to continuing to escalate our campaign in the weeks and months ahead,” Berry writes.

Berry, a former general counsel of the Federal Communications Commission under the Bush administration, will face retired U.S. Army colonel Patrick Murray in the GOP primary, held on June 8.

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Patrick Murray is ramping up his rhetoric in the somewhat low-key Republican primary battle for Virginia’s eighth congressional district.

Murray, who is challenging Matthew Berry for the right to face incumbent Democratic congressman Jim Moran in the fall, sent an email to his supporters today blasting Moran and the Obama administration.

Murray said defeating Moran would “restore honor and dignity to representation for Virginia’s 8th Congressional District.”

Murray, a retired U.S. Army colonel, wrote about the need to reverse “the dangerous course that the Obama administration has carelessly taken us on.”

Also in the email, Murray sounded a bit Ted Stevens-esque when he referenced our “our innovative use of every modern communications tool at our disposal.”

“Two of those tools are Facebook and Twitter!” Murray wrote. “You have probably heard of them (Obama’s use of these new media techniques was widely publicized during his campaign).”

Murray has largely avoided mentioning Berry during the course of his campaign. He has, however, repeatedly criticized Moran and the Obama administration, and has focused much attention on the issue of securing the country’s borders.

On Monday he said on Twitter: “Times Square terrorists have international links. Now can we focus on securing the border?”

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On a sunny Saturday afternoon, in the conference room of Marymount University’s Ballston campus, Matthew Berry officially kicked off his bid for congress. Most people expect Berry to win the primary. Virtually no one expects him — or any other Republican — to win in the general election.

The eighth congressional district of Virginia, which Rep. Jim Moran (D) has represented since 1991, is considered one of the safest Democratic seats in the House of Representatives.

This year, however, with political discontent over the Democratic health care reform effort nearing the boiling point, Republicans see an opportunity to, at the very least, force Democrats to devote more resources than usual to re-electing Moran, at a time when they can least afford it.

“Unlike in past election cycles, the eighth district does not have to be an afterthought,” Berry said, promising to “wage the most competitive general election campaign that this district has seen in almost a generation.”

Berry spent nearly 20 minutes on Saturday delivering a speech blasting “Obamacare,” advocating fiscal responsibility, and calling for a more muscular national security policy. Social issues — abortion, gay marriage, immigration — were never mentioned.

The speech was short on rhetorical flourishes, although a comparison between President Obama’s foreign policy and Barney the dinosaur did draw laughs among the gathered crowd of about 30 supporters.

“Some people say that when I speak, like today, I come across as maybe bit too wonky,” Berry later admitted, to more chuckles.  “But to paraphrase former president George H.W. Bush, I prefer to think of it as being fair to the other side by keeping my charisma in check.” (See video of the speech, after the jump)

For now, Berry is engaged in a low-key primary contest with Patrick Murray, a retired U .S. Army colonel.

Berry, the former general counsel of the Federal Communications Commission, has out-fundraised Murray nearly 3-to-1. Still, the $80,574 cash that Berry had on hand, as of the most recent FEC filing, pales to Moran’s $510,583 war chest. And Moran is not facing a primary challenge.

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Update at 2:15 p.m. on Tuesday, March 23 — Laurence Socci has endorsed Matthew Berry. “Matthew knows the issues important to the 8th District and has a viable plan for fixing the problems caused by Jim Moran,” Socci said.

Virginia’s eighth congressional district, which includes Arlington, has been a decidedly elusive target for Republicans for nearly two decades.

The first George Bush was president the last time a Republican held the seat. The last three presidential elections have been laughably lopsided in favor of Democrats. President Obama carried the district by a margin of 69 percent to 30 percent over Sen. John McCain, whose own national campaign headquarters was based in Arlington.

Despite the apparent electoral futility, attorney and GOP hopeful Matthew Berry is optimistic about his chances. Last month he cited polling data that showed a close race in a potential match-up with incumbent Rep. Jim Moran. And now, an online poll shows Berry well ahead of his competitor for the GOP nomination, Iraq war veteran Patrick Murray.

The poll, hosted on the blog Red NoVa, shows Berry leading Murray by a margin of 787 votes to 317 votes. Laurence Socci, who withdrew from the race last week, has received 321 votes.

Both Berry and Murray hope to use voter unease about health care reform to their advantage.

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