A few days ago I received in the mail a new Voter Registration Card. I wasn’t sure why I was getting a new one until I finally noticed that the congressional district I live in had changed. For years, I’ve been in the 10th district, which is represented by Rep. Gerry Connolly. Now, I’m in the 8th district, which is represented by Rep. Jim Moran. Figuring that a number of other voters in Mount Vernon are changing as well, I thought I would use my world-famous column to share a little information about the guy we call “Jimbo.”
First of all, a disclaimer: Jim is a good friend. I got to know him years ago when we both lived in the fashionable Del Ray section of Alexandria. I worked on his campaigns for City Council and then when he ran against the incumbent Mayor, Chuck Beatley. Later, I helped organize his first run for Congress. A lasting memory of mine is sitting out on my screened porch on a Saturday afternoon, concocting up some frozen margaritas. Suddenly, I saw Jim jogging up the street, looking like he really wasn’t enjoying himself, so I yelled out to him and with no hesitation he stopped. Being good Irishmen, we spent the rest of the afternoon imbibing and talking politics.
The bottom line is that you either hate Jim or you love Jim. He is a true Boston Catholic Irishman, filled with passion and an accompanying temper. He is a solid liberal, particularly on social issues where he is 100 percent pro-choice and pro-gay rights. Indeed, he was one of the first candidates to use his pro-choice position to get elected to Congress.
But Jim’s passion also attracts attention and sometimes gets him into trouble. Before he was elected to Congress, he raised some eyebrows when he actually tried to help a kid who jumped onto the rudder of his car in an attempted hijacking. Jim resisted, then dragged the kid back into the school to call his parents. But the newspapers interpreted the incident differently, suggesting that Jim was being a bully. Then, when he got to Congress Jim had to be restrained by the Capitol Police after a shoving match with Congressman Duke Cunningham during a debate on President Clinton's decision to send U.S. troops to Bosnia. Just before the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Moran told an audience that if "it were not for the strong support of the Jewish community for this war with Iraq, we would not be doing this. The leaders of the Jewish community are influential enough that they could change the direction of where this is going, and I think they should." This brought criticism from many in his own party, including then House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Jim later apologized for the remarks, saying that "I should not have singled out the Jewish community and regret giving any impression that its members are somehow responsible for the course of action being pursued by the administration…”
So, Jim may not be the most diplomatic guy in the world and he certainly does not fit the mold of the “Virginia gentleman.” But I guess that’s what I like about Jim. What you see is what you get. And putting aside personality, I love his approach to politics. The word “waffling” is not in his vocabulary. You walk up to him in the street or at a Town Meeting and he doesn’t hesitate to tell you exactly what he is thinking at the time on a particular issue.
I’m not sure how long Jim will remain in Congress. For many years, he has successfully brought “earmark” money to the district, including the $180 million that will be used to widen Richmond Highway in the Fort Belvoir area. But now that earmarks are banned, his position on the House Appropriations Committee is not as valuable.
Still, I look forward to being able to vote for Jim Moran and putting his sign up in my yard. With Jim, what you see is what you get. You can’t say that about many politicians these days.