Moran Woos Black Voters
Democratical gubernatorial hopeful Brian Moran began his day at a small Baptist church in the Highland Park neighborhood on the north side of Richmond -- the same place his rival, R. Creigh Deeds, appeared two months ago.
Only about 50 people attended the 8 a.m. service at Fifth Street Baptist Church, where the windows were adorned with stained glass and a yellow banner read "Bringing the Kingdom to the Community."
Evelyn Morris-Harris, chairwoman of the Democratic Black Caucus of Virginia, invited Moran to her church of six years and introduced him to the congregation.
"He's a family orientated man,'' she told them. "And we look for that. We need that. We need someone who understands what family is all about."
Morris-Harris told them the oft-repeated story of how Moran left college his junior year to move home to care for his dying father and how he helped recruit Democrats for office as chairman of the Democratic caucus in the House of Delegates. "That's dedication," she said to repeated applause.
Morris-Harris, who met Moran five years ago when they both attended the Democratic National Convention, plans to spend Tuesday handing out literature for him at a polling place in her home county of Chesterfield outside Richmond.
The church's pastor, the Rev. F. Todd Gray met Moran through his cousin -- Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones, a pastor who worked with Moran in the General Assembly and has since endorsed him. Gray encouraged the parishioners to vote Tuesday and then told him he, too, would be casting a ballot for Moran.
"Brian is right on guns, he's right on affirmative action, he's right on taxes, he's right on jobs,'' Gray said. "I'm not telling you who to vote for, I'm just telling you who I'm voting for. I'm voting for Brian Moran."
Moran, wearing a navy blue suit, sat in the front row and spent much of the service bobbing his head to the upbeat music sung by a chorus of young adults. He spoke briefly, telling parishioners that the race for governor had been a spiritual as well as physical journey. Each evening, he said, he thanks God for the blessings of that day and the grace for the next day. He spoke about his recent event at the McLean home of Ethel Kennedy, the widow of Robert F. Kennedy, and receive the loudest applause when he spoke about the need to restore the voting rights of felons.
"There are unique challenges ahead but I know working for this wonderful president we could defeat any foe, conquer any challenge we have ahead."
After the service, he placed a blue Moran for governor sticker on his lapel and began shaking hands and introducing himself.
"This seals it for me,'' said Willis Barnett of Henrico County.
Barnett said he voted for Deeds for attorney general in 2005, but was disappointed when he lost of Republican Robert F. McDonnell, now the GOP's nominee for governor. "I thought he should win it,'' he said. "Once you are a loser, you are branded that way."
Moran has been visiting predominantly black churches -- some with 3,500 people and some with less than 100 -- across the state two Sundays a month for about 15 months. Most have been in Richmond and Hampton Roads, but he has also concentrated on Lynchburg and Roanoke.
After church, Moran flew downstate to continue his weeklong Fighting for Virginia tour with rallies in the economically distressed cities Roanoke and Martinsville. In recent weeks, Moran has renewed his effort in southside and southwest Virginia -- rural areas that are likely to go for Deeds -- as Deeds makes his own last-minute push in Moran's home base of Northern Virginia. He has traveled downstate more frequently and announced endorsements from every Democratic constitutional officer in Montgomery County, including Sheriff Tommy Whitt. "They know how electable I am,'' Moran said.
June 7, 2009; 1:25 PM ET
Categories: 2009 Governor's Race , Anita Kumar , Brian J. Moran , Creigh Deeds , Election 2009 , Terry McAuliffe
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