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Murray Hopes to Unseat Moran in 8th District

Patrick Murray, an Alexandria Republican, ran unsuccessfully against Moran in 2010.

The air was electric Friday as campaign volunteers waited for the arrival of U.S. Sen. John Thune at the Republican “Victory Center” office in Springfield. Thune stumped for Mitt Romney, U.S. Senate candidate George Allen and, a name less well known, Patrick Murray, who is hoping to unseat Congressman Jim Moran in the 8th District.

But Murray’s name is better known this year than in 2010, when he unsuccessfully challenged 22-year incumbent Moran. Murray campaign volunteer Laura Arth, who was at the Thune event Friday, spoke enthusiastically about Murray.

“Within the last couple of weeks, the energy in Virginia has just really picked up as the Romney campaign has really put the pedal to the metal with regard to getting volunteers, securing the phone-banking and scheduling of events,” she said. “Patrick’s happy to participate with everything because the top of the ticket helps Patrick win in Virginia’s 8th.”

Murray, a retired U.S. Army colonel and Alexandria resident, is counting on a wave of support for Republican candidates and better name recognition this time around, as opposed to the 2010 race.

“I was a brand-new candidate, and no one knew who I was,” Murray told Patch. “And I had to get out my own vote. That’s not going to be the case this year, because I’m a little bit better known now with voters, and also we’re going to have a presidential race and a hotly contested Senate race. … We’re happy about that.”

Extensive Military Career

Murray, an Oklahoma native, received his bachelor’s degree in economics from Oklahoma State University, where he joined the U.S. Army ROTC. He went on active duty after graduation, living at times in the Washington metropolitan area and “falling in love” with Alexandria. He also holds two master’s degrees, in history and Russian studies.

When Murray, 53,  joined the Army, the Cold War was still in full swing. He served in various capacities in the Army, including as an armor officer on the border between East and West Germany, and spent time in the former Soviet Union and in the Balkans. His Army career includes serving as a foreign area officer in defense intelligence and as an attache in various embassies.

In 2007, Murray served a tour in Iraq, working in strategic planning under General David Petraeus. He was also stationed at the U.S. State Department and worked with the staff of U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations. He retired from the military in 2009.

Locally, Murray serves on the board of directors for the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria. He’s worked with the city on a committee regarding the Torpedo Factory, and he’s also working to help create a military museum near Woodbridge.

Focus on Jobs, Economy

Much of Murray’s focus falls on the economy and the national debt. He favors fewer government restrictions on small business, which he says prevents them from creating jobs.

“I think the government’s role in this isn’t to create jobs,” he said. “It’s to provide a fair and balanced platform, playing field, so businesses can flourish. We’ve seen that happen in the past. We have good examples of that happening. Right now, that’s not what’s happening, and it’s not what my opponent wants.”

Murray also likes to talk energy. He supports a greater role for the free market in the energy sector and favors greater exploitation of oil and natural gas, including hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.”

Murray also supports a federal balanced budget amendment and has flirted alternately with the ideas of a fair tax, or consumption tax, and a flat tax. Taxes need to be simplified, with fewer exemptions, he said.

“If you’re a ‘60s generation Democrat, Moran’s your guy, and that’s fine,” he said. “They know they’re going to get their Social Security. They’re not going to have to worry about this debt. They’re pretty much starting to go into retirement.

“But if you’re 25, 30, 35 years old, and you’ve got a mountain of student loan debt, and you’re looking at a mountain of federal debt, you’re going, ‘Who the hell is going to pay for that?’ They are. They look in the mirror and they see they’re going to be the ones to pay for it, and that’s why we need a balanced budget amendment.”

On social issues, Murray is pro-life. He believes gay marriage should be left to the states but supports same-sex civil unions.

Targeting Independents, Swing Voters

Murray spends much of his time knocking on doors. He was campaigning door-to-door in the Fort Hunt area recently, after many residents lost power from the derecho that tore through the area, followed by a heat wave.

“They said, ‘Hey, if you’re out walking and knocking on doors this morning, we like that,’ ” he said. “So, we’re targeting independents and swing voters, voters who have voted both parties the past four or five cycles.”

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Murray has raised just shy of $100,000 in the race. That pales in comparison to Moran, who has amassed more than $800,000. Independent candidate Jason Howell has raised only about $10,000.

For what Murray lacks in funds, he hopes to make up for in his message in traditional, online and social media. During the last election, his campaign raised about $430,000, and he hopes to beat that number this go-round.

Murray’s campaign remains largely grassroots in nature, said campaign spokesman Reece Collins.

“We still feel like we’re ahead of pace from where we were two years ago,” Collins said. “In terms of the main ways of getting the message out and communicating, there’s a big grassrooots effort, lots of phone calls, lots of door knocking. But we’re also doing the new media communications, as well, whether it’s Facebook or Twitter or email. I think, overall, we feel good about the progress made.”

Jay McConville, chairman of the  Fairfax County Republican Committee, sees hope in Murray’s candidacy. His qualifications include personal integrity, a deep understanding of defense issues and a pro-business outlook, he said.

“What Patrick has got to do, and is doing, is contrast the type of representative he’ll be and the type of congressman Moran has been,” McConville said. “ … People really need to take a look at him, because he’s a good man, he has a distinguished record, and in the 8th District, we deserve someone better than what we have today.”

Jim Miller August 02, 2012 at 02:59 AM
Stephen, that's all apples and oranges.Tell me what Patrick Murray has done in the 8th Congressional District? Don't waste your time. He's done nothing. You can crow about his military experience, but in this area, you can probably find a ton of men and women who have equal military credentials to his, if not better. There's no one disputing that Patrick Murray is a nice guy, and no one is casting any negative light on the fact that he served in the military for our country. He should be saluted for that, as I've stated before. Look, one more time. Your guy, the ONLY Republican who could have a chance against Jim Moran, would be Frank Fannon. And Frank's not running, Patrick is, so you have to look at the lay out of the land. Even Stevie Wonder can see that Patrick Murray has impossible odds to beat Jim Moran, in a district that was pretty much carved out, just for him. So in a decidedly Democratic district as the 8th is, do you REALLY think that Patrick Murray has a shot? Look, maybe you do, and if you do, or if anyone does, I'd love to see people put up a hundred bucks, a C note, on Patrick Murray. No one will bet on him to win unless they just want to throw their money away. Jim Moran, once again, as I've stated, has his faults, but, as I've also stated, so do we all. But with Jim Moran's 22-year tenure, he brings a lot of money into the 8th, money for roads that are so needed for transportation to get people to and from work. Jim Moran's no saint, but he's got my vote!
amy lu August 13, 2012 at 01:59 PM
To answer Mr. Hernly's question - Jim Moran served several years as a volunteer in his neighborhood civic association and served on its executive board prior to being elected to City Council. In addition, Congressman Moran councils 'up and coming leaders' on the importance of local public service such as joining and spending time serving in the local civic association, as well as on local boards and commissions, before running for elected office.
Jim Miller August 14, 2012 at 03:39 AM
Amy - Patrick Murray has absolutely no shot, no shot whatsoever, in beating Jim Moran. What Republicans, who are under the false impression that Patrick Murray can somehow eek out a win this November, fail to realize is that the 8th is pretty much crafted for Jim Moran, or any Democrat, for that matter, as most of the electorate within the district is in fact Democrats. That fact alone gives Jim Moran an almost insurmountable lead, just in votes alone, and also gives him a distinct advantage over Patrick Murray, or any other Republican wannabe who wants to challenge Jim. Jim Moran is completely unbeatable. I haven't found a Republican yet who is boastful enough to say that they'll put their money up on Patrick Murray to beat Jim Moran. If this is a horse race, Jim Moran's coming down the home stretch and Patrick Murray is still in the paddock.
Mr. Brown August 14, 2012 at 10:44 AM
Once again, Jim Miller breaks down why we should support Moran. 1. Jim will bet Moran wins. 2. Moran has "succeeded" in "bringing home the butter" for the 8th. I suggest our mere proximity to DC handles that nicely. As for the butter, Moran didn't stop Crystal City from being emptied of federal office space, and he was complicit in the debacle of the Mark Center. I also suggest that experience in Alexandria's silly little local democrat machine is not needed to represent the 8th... in fact lack of experience actually lends credibility in this case. We get federal funds in the 8th because of the congressional leadership that live here, in sprite of Moran. Moran is only able to be the disgrace that he is becuase the democratic party in the 8th all believe the same wrong ideas about him. He's an embarassment, and he doesn't even actually represent the businesses that employ so many people in the area. Jim, your obsession with betting everyone who doesn't support Moran is silly. We know the racial and class politics that Moran plays work in the 8th. We don't have to like that so many of you are led around by low-rent union pandering, immigrant pandering, and racism accusations. We will vote against Moran, even if we lose, and we will do it proudly.
Jim Miller August 14, 2012 at 04:19 PM
Matthew - Quite surprisingly, I agree with some of the points that you've made. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, Jim Moran is no saint, but who in our great country really is? Everyone makes mistakes, it's a human trait that we all have, and despite all the demonizing that people can throw at Jim Moran, he has come through for the 8th, year-after-year. As far as Crystal City being emptied from federal office space, I don't think that any candidate could have prevented that, or should have been involved in that to the extent that vacancies with commercial property shouldn't be based on how big of a long-term lease you can try to eek out of the government, but it should be based on the market, and let the property owners work out the best deals to their own advantage. The then-seated Alexandria City Council is more to blame for the BRAC-133 Mark Center fiasco, and not so much Jim, in that case. My main point is that unless the Republicans can come up with some golden boy of their own, like Frank Fannon, who's a left-leaning moderate, they don't have a chance at ever beating Jim Moran, period. Has Jim Moran embarrassed himself? Sure. Has he made mistakes. Sure. But he's all we've got and despite his problems that he's had over the years, we'll take Jim Moran over Patrick Murray any day of the week. Jim's definitely no saint, as I've said, but at least all of problems have been exposed and vetted out, and he hasn't 'officially' broken any laws, so he's good by me.

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