The surprise announcement by our venerable U.S. Congressman Jim Moran that he will not seek re-election this November, to retire from Congress after 24 years next January, suddenly makes the 2014 mid-term election year very interesting, even in this region unaccustomed to much competition or change in the make-up of our Congressional delegation.
It’s not that there is any threat Moran’s 8th District will fall into the hands of Republicans. That won’t happen, but between now and a June Democratic primary, we can expect there will be a very lively and energized race among a considerable number of party faithfuls.
The neighboring 10th District will be a different story, however. There, Rep. Frank Wolf is retiring after serving even longer than Moran, 10 years longer. In that one, whereas Wolf was unbeatable as long as he was bidding for re-elections, it is seen as a toss-up now by political pundits. It has been identified by The Hill newspaper as one of the five most interesting congressional races for 2014, and four candidates, two Democrats and two Republicans, have already announced their campaigns.
Given that there is a hotly contested race to fill an unexpired term on the Arlington County Board going on right now involving two Democrats, there is a high likelihood that more than a few Democrats may throw their hats in the ring for Moran’s seat this spring. They would have to file by late March for a June primary, so there really isn’t that much time.
Moran, himself, in an interview with the News-Press after making his retirement announcement Wednesday, rattled off a list of a half-dozen or so Democrats, all friends of his, who’ve had to wait a very long time for a crack at becoming a U.S. congressman.
He said he had no intention of showing a preference for a successor, noting that all the most likely candidates are friends of his. That’s quite unlike what State Del. Jim Scott did when he announced his retirement last March, ending 24 years of service. He made sure that his former aide Marcus Simon would have an upper hand to succeed him, and it worked. It is now Del. Simon, thank you.
But in the Moran case, there is a short list of those Moran mentioned in the interview, and atop the list is former Virginia Lieutenant Governor and Falls Church businessman Don Beyer Jr., recently returned from a stint as an Obama-appointed U.S. ambassador to Switzerland. Moran did make it a point to say that he called Beyer on Tuesday before making his announcement official.
Of course, concerning Moran, himself, we cannot say enough about the honesty and courage he has brought to his office in support of many meritorious causes over the years. Honesty and courage are his hallmarks, and even if it is easier to be so in a “safe” district, we’re confident he would have been no different no matter how much risk was involved.