- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Several Virginia politicians and a Washington lawyer are considering challenging Rep. James P. Moran, fueling the potential for a heated contest next year.
Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Katherine K. Hanley and state Sen. Leslie L. Byrne, said last week they might challenge Mr. Moran. Others, including state Delegate Kenneth Plum and Fairfax County Supervisor Gerald Connolly said they are taking a wait-and-see approach.
"Clearly the events of the last two weeks have put into play this congressional seat and that's a whole new development," said Mr. Connolly, a Democrat who represents Merrifield. "I have been approached by a number of people to consider it, but at the moment I'm focused on county issues."
A seven-term Democrat, Mr. Moran has been widely criticized for remarks he made at a Northern Virginia constituent forum in Reston March 3.
"If it were not for the strong support of the Jewish community for this war with Iraq, we would not be doing this. … The leaders of the Jewish community are influential enough that they could change the direction of where this is going, and I think they should," Mr. Moran said.
Mr. Moran apologized and Friday stepped down from his House leadership position. However, he said he would run for an eighth term. His current term ends in 2004.
After breaking down in tears last weekend at a fund-raiser for his brother state Delegate Brian J. Moran, Alexandria Democrat, Mr. Moran said he is trying to focus on his constituents, not the emerging competition.
"We're not really thinking about that right now," a spokesman for Mr. Moran said Monday.
Mr. Moran was scheduled to speak at a town hall meeting this Saturday in Reston. But that meeting was postponed yesterday because of "the heightened security alert and impending events in Iraq," according to a press release issued by his office. The meeting will be rescheduled.
Mr. Plum, who represents Reston and other nearby parts of Fairfax County, said he will focus on his re-election to the state House before deciding whether to run for Congress. "I need to do one thing at a time and then we'll see where we stand," Mr. Plum said. "It is fully my expectation that [Mr. Moran] be challenged."
Mr. Connolly said he will decide whether to run in the next few weeks. "A lot of people have said they would also consider running and I would have to weigh that," he said. "Clearly if Chairman Hanley decides to do this I would not challenge her."
Mr. Connolly, who has served on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors since 1995, is viewed as Mrs. Hanley's "heir apparent" on the board. If she decides to run for Congress, she isn't likely to run for re-election to the board, sources said Monday.
A former public school teacher, Mrs. Hanley was first elected board chairman in 1995. This morning, Mrs. Hanley is scheduled to participate in WTOP Radio's call-in show.
As state senator, Mrs. Byrne represents the Falls Church area, and she is losing her seat to redistricting. Before winning that seat, Mrs. Byrne served as a U.S. representative from 1992 to 1994.
During her term on Capitol Hill, Mrs. Byrne served on the Public Works and Transportation Committee and the Post Office and Civil Service Committee. She lost her seat in 1993 to then chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Thomas M. Davis III, a Republican.
Before going to Congress, Mrs. Byrne was elected four times to the Virginia House of Delegates between 1986 and 1992.
Another potential contender is Washington-based lawyer Jeremy Bash. A Harvard Law School graduate, Mr. Bash, 31, worked on former Vice President Al Gore's 2000 presidential campaign and represented Virginia Democrats in a 2001 redistricting lawsuit.
"I've spoken to people throughout the district who have urged me to become a candidate and spoken to people who told me it's time for a change," Mr. Bash said. He said he will decide whether to make a run in two weeks.
Alexandria Mayor Kerry J. Donley, meanwhile, discounted rumors of his interest in running for the Democratic nomination.
"Everyone is saying I'm actively considering it. I'm not," he said Monday. "Yes I'd like to run for Congress, but I don't know when that's going to be. At this point, I don't have any specific plans to challenge Jim."
Jeff Barnes contributed to this report.

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