Long-time U.S. Rep. James P. Moran became the second Northern Virginia congressman to announce his retirement in recent months, following U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf with his own, unexpected decision to not seek re-election this year.
In a statement released yesterday morning, Moran, who has represented the 8th District of Virginia that includes the City of Falls Church in the U.S. House of Representatives for 23 years, made his announcement. ”It’s time to close this chapter of my life and move on to my next challenge,” Moran stated.
Last month, Rep. Wolf announced his retirement after 33 years in the 10th District, adjacent the 8th.
Like Wolf, Moran will serve out his current term until January 2015. By not seeking a slot on the ballot for the first time since 1990, he will be opening an opportunity for what is expected to be a large field of Democrats who will seek the nomination to replace him. Given the overwhelmingly Democratic demographics of the 8th District, the next congressman will undoubtedly be decided in a June primary.
There will also be hotly contested fights for both the Democratic and Republican nominations in Wolf’s district, where the outcome in November is far from certain.
Moran served on the Alexandria City Council, and as its mayor, for 12 years prior to winning election to the U.S. Congress in 1990. With his announcement yesterday, messages and statements of appreciation for his 23 years in Congress began lighting up the Internet, including one from no less than the President.
President Obama wrote, “In his 23 years in the U.S. Congress, Jim Moran has pushed to create jobs and economic opportunity for hardworking Virginians and has consistently demonstrated a commitment to growing a strong American economy. And because of Jim’s leadership, our brave service members and veterans are better protected, our civil service is stronger, and our air and water are cleaner and safer. Michelle and I thank Congressman Moran for his service, and we wish him and his family the very best in the future.”
In a phone interview with the News-Press yesterday, Moran said he made up his mind to retire on Tuesday, saying he felt it was best to leave on a high note, with an outstanding staff and deep friendships on the committees where he serves and an appropriations bill that will be “as good as it can get,” and will limit the ability to introduce new regional programs for the next two or three years.
“No, I haven’t run out of gas, and that’s part of the reason I’ve made this decision,” Moran said. “I feel great about everything. I look forward to making more of a difference outside the institution for the next 12 to 15 years.” Although he has no idea at this point what he will doing, specifically, once he leaves office next year, he said it will involve one or more of his pet issues, early childhood development, global warming, global peace and stability and public transit.
He said he has no intention of running for another public office, saying he is “too liberal” to run for statewide office, and that he will be backing Hillary Clinton for president in 2016.
He also said that he will not get involved in the process of deciding on his successor. “There are a host of others, all close friends, who are qualified,” he said. He then provided a list of possible candidates, including State Sen. Adam Ebbin, former Lieutenant Governor Don Beyer, Arlington Board member Jay Fisette, State Sen. Barbara Favola, State Del. Mark Sickles and State Del. Ron Krupicka.
Moran first won his congressional seat in 1990 by defeating five-term Republican Stan Parris. He has since won handily in all his bids for re-election. Married twice and the father of four, he was born in Buffalo, New York in 1945 and grew up in a suburb of Boston. He earned his B.A. at the College of Holy Cross and an M.A. at the University of Pittsburgh.
Among the commendations that flowed following the word of his announcement yesterday, Moran’s colleague in the adjacent 11th Congressional District Gerry Connolly issued a statement praising Moran, saying “He has always been a champion for Northern Virginia, a leader on environmental issues, and a fierce defender of the downtrodden…an influential and senior member of Congress, a passionate advocate for our region and for the progressive agenda, and someone who has delivered for us time and time again.”
U.S. Senator from Virginia Mark Warner wrote that Moran “is a good friend and a formidable legislator who has fought hard for his district and the entire Northern Virginia region…a strong voice and reliable partner in our efforts to support federal workers and to protect Virginia’s critical connection with our nation’s military.”
Virginia’s U.S. Senator Tim Kaine wrote, “For nearly four decades, Jim Moran has devoted his career to serving the people of Northern Virginia…I will greatly miss his upbeat presence on Capitol Hill…A passionate and progressive advocate for so many important local, national and international issues, I have no doubt Jim will continue to serve in meaningful ways for many years to come.”
Virginia’s just-installed new governor Terry McAuliffe released a statement saying Moran “has been a fierce advocate for the people of Northern Virginia, a responsible steward of the federal appropriations process and a voice for so many who are often left on the margins of our society. No one has fought harder for the men and women who serve and sacrifice in the United States Armed Forces and for the federal employees who are so important to the economy of his district and our entire Commonwealth.”