Story by Chris Graham
The last time Virginia went Democratic for president, gas was 25 cents, The Beatles were about to make their debut on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” Ronald Reagan was still a Democrat, and Brian Moran was 5 years old.
“A lot has changed, but this year, Virginia is going to elect Barack Obama,” said Moran, a candidate for the 2009 Democratic Party gubernatorial nomination, who was in Waynesboro last night to watch the second presidential debate of the 2008 general-election season with voters at the Waynesboro Democratic Committee Election Headquarters.
Moran addressed the group during a lull in the debate, which was, in the minds of more than a few observers, full of lulls, picking up during a question from a participant from a retiree about the sacrifices that the presidential candidates would ask of Americans to help get the country out of its current economic doldrums. Moran noted that President Bush likes to play down the notion that Americans need to make any sacrifices, but in fact, “The president asked our veterans to make sacrifices. He certainly asked the many men and women who have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, who have suffered injuries and even in some cases death. But he’s only asked our military to serve. He has not asked Americans to pay for the war,” Moran said.
In an interview with The Augusta Free Press and The News Virginian afterward, Moran explained why he thinks Democrat Barack Obama seems to be connecting with voters as well as he has been. According to the latest Gallup daily-tracking poll, released this afternoon, Obama currently has his biggest lead of the general-election campaign, pulling the support of 52 percent of Americans to 41 percent for Republican John McCain.
“They’re looking for somebody who is empathetic, who understands what they are going through. And I think Barack Obama has done the best job of responding to their concerns,” said Moran, a member of the Virginia House of Delegates from Northern Virginia, where Obama is running particularly well in his bid to win the state’s 13 electoral votes. A SurveyUSA poll released on Monday that had Obama winning statewide by 10 points in the head-to-head with McCain had the Democrat up 24 points in Northern Virginia. Moran gave debate watchers some insight into McCain’s NoVa troubles, on the subject of earmarks, federal appropriations for local projects that McCain has derided as wasteful and promised to cut across the board if elected. “Everything thinks that money is just wasted, that it’s research on pygmie monkeys or something. Well, it’s not,” Moran said. “In one case in Northern Virginia, our Republican congressman and our Republican senator, John Warner, have asked the federal government for $150 million to pay for rail out to Dulles Airport, which is an extremely significant rail project for not just Northern Virginia but all of Virginia. And that’s a part of the earmark. John McCain voted against it. So Chris here asked me how we’re doing in Northern Virginia. We’re doing very well,” Moran said.
Moran is confident that Obama’s strong showing in the polls in Virginia will hold up. “The reason we’ve done well in Virginia is as Democrats we’ve done well responding to people’s everyday needs – children’s health insurance, education, public safety. That’s why I think Virginia is poised to elect Barack Obama. One, Barack Obama is such a tremendous candidate. And two, Mark Warner and Tim Kaine have laid the groundwork for a Democrat being victorious in Virginia,” Moran said.
As to his own race for the ’09 gubernatorial nomination, Moran sounded confident in addressing his chances to win the race, which currently includes Moran and Bath County State Sen. Creigh Deeds as the announced candidates. “I am really enjoying it,” Moran said. “I have a passion for public service. I’ve enjoyed my success in the legislature, and I am really looking forward to competing against the Republican nominee,” Moran said.
He responded to a reporter’s question on the subject of another possible entrant in the race, former Democratic National Committee chair Terry McAuliffe, with humor. “Three’s a crowd?” Moran said, and smiled.