Analysis: local election heats up

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Congressional elections are about three months away and the first debate of the 8th District race is Tuesday, marking the unofficial shotgun start to the finish line.

Bang. 

Independent Green candidate Ron Fisher and Republican Patrick Murray are trying to unseat Rep. Jim Moran (D) for the first time in almost 20 years. Murray, an Alexandrian, has run the loudest campaign thus far daily email blasts, fundraisers with illustrious keynoters including Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli but Moran and Fisher have been relatively quiet.

Even in an anti-incumbent environment, a phrase doled out by the boatload on cable news stations, both challengers are dealing with heavy winds and rough seas in their quest across the Potomac to Capitol Hill. 

Fisher ran in 2008, but still has faint name recognition outside of Falls Church, his home. 

Murray has come out swinging against Moran, but remains a Republican in a left-leaning district of Alexandria, Arlington Falls Church and parts of Fairfax. He remains resolute, too, according to campaign manager Mike Lane.   

Patricks not a congressman yet, Lane said.

While Morans camp pounced on Murray for luring Cuccinelli to the district, Lane said his horse will focus on the congressmans ties to Paul J. Magliocchetti, a defense lobbyist who was recently indicted for scheming a mammoth case of campaign-finance fraud. Magliocchettis PMA Group is Morans top individual donor at about $178,000 since 1989, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Why is he not giving back a million dollars from PMA or donating it to charity? Lane said.

Moran was acquitted of any wrongdoing by the House ethics committee last year.

If through the legal process any donations are determined to have been contributed illegally we will give them to charity, said spokesman Austin Durrer while Moran was in Afghanistan Tuesday.

Murrays campaign (he had Lane speak for him) also wants Moran to explain why a rather attractive piece of glossy literature about Morans time in Congress entitled Leading the Way was sent to 8th District voters at the expense of taxpayers. Lane calls it propaganda meant to sell Moran. 

Its a sales piece, Lane said. It boggles the mind that he thinks theres any rational defense at all for having the taxpayers pick up the cost for his campaign.

Its just a newsletter, Durrer said. 

Potato, potahto.

Were not making big waves like having Cuccinelli speak at our fundraisers so the Republicans have to make up, Durrer added.

In the traditionally Democratic 8th District, Murray will have to defend against his own statements, like calling Roe v. Wade the worst decision ever handed down by the Supreme Court. He blasted the decision on his website before taking it down after winning the primary. Lane said there was a caveat to the statement: it was supposed to say one of the worst decisions ever handed down.

Hell stand by anything that was on his website relating to his platform prior to altering it, Lane said. 

Murray also took down his stances on same-sex marriage, the militarys dont ask, dont tell policy, guns and the death penalty because Lane said the voters want to focus on the economy and ethics this time around not social issues.

Clark Mercer, chair of the Alexandria Democratic Committee, disagrees.

I believe the majority of voters in the 8th District believe in a womans right to choose, that we should not discriminate based on sexual orientation, Mercer said.

The candidates will have a chance to speak for themselves on September 7, when they attend a debate hosted by the Arlington County Civic Foundation. 

Its off to the races again.

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