The News-Press heartily endorses for re-election the two veteran U.S. congressmen representing our area of circulation – Democratic Rep. Jim Moran in the 8th District and Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly in the 11th District of Virginia. Moran’s district includes the City of Falls Church, and Connolly’s covers most of eastern Fairfax County.
Truth be told, neither incumbent faces a serious challenge in this November’s election largely due to redistricting last spring, in which the GOP and Democrats agreed to strengthen their incumbents in all Virginia congressional districts. While this has removed Connolly, in particular, from the kind of stiff challenge he faced in 2010, it also secures the three districts in the southern part of the state that the Republicans took over in that election.
The fact that the two retired Army colonels who are the GOP challengers to Moran and Connolly this time are not expected to make a major run at the incumbents at the ballot box means that the GOP nationally, in its effort to win the battleground state of Virginia for its presidential and U.S. Senate candidates, will not focus on Northern Virginia as much as it might have otherwise. That could bode well for the Democratic candidates, President Obama and former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, who have in Connolly and Moran strong, seasoned and popular political leaders.
Moran has represented the 8th District since 1990 and Connolly is seeking a third term in Congress after extensive experience serving on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, first representing the Providence District and then as County Board chair.
Their experience and seniority will be of particular importance following next month’s election as the Congress will take up the issue of the so-called “fiscal cliff” and the threat of sequestration that could potentially decimate the Northern Virginia region’s defense-related economy.
Connolly, Moran and their Northern Virginia Republican counterpart Rep. Frank Wolf in the 10th District, now mostly in Loudoun County, have demonstrated a capacity to work together to get the funding for the extension of the Metro rail to Dulles Airport and will use their combined resources to protect jobs in the region during the sequestration debate.
The importance of their roles, and their seniority, in Congress will be critical for the coming fight. By contrast to their opponents, Moran and Connolly both have decades of service in public office in the region, making them familiar and experienced in what will be a major fight over the threat of deep cuts in the U.S. defense budget. In the case of Northern Virginia, the defense issue is one of retaining the capacity for innovation and creative new technologies that can also have profound peacetime applications.
Progress on other major issues – women’s health, equal rights under the law for everyone and the environment – are also important to voters in this region, and Connolly and Moran can both be trusted to stand firm against the forces of reaction on them, as well.