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Moran Woos Black Voters

Anita Kumar

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.

By Anita Kumar  |  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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The party that wins the previous year's presidential contest loses the Virginia Governor's race. It's been true since 1972.

72 Nixon (R), 69 Godwin (D)
76 Carter (D), 77 Dalton (R)
80 Reagan (R), 81 Robb (D)
84 Reagan (R), 85 Baliles (D)
88 Bush (R), 89 Wilder (D)
92 Clinton (D), 93 Allen (R)
96 Clinton (D), 97 Gilmore (R)
00 Bush (R), 01 Mark Warner (D)
04 Bush (R), 05 Kaine (D)
08 Obama (D), 09 ________ (__)

Fill in the blank, but getting it right won't make you a genius.

Posted by: blasmaic | June 7, 2009 3:07 PM | Report abuse

The questions for ALL Virginians this election is do you want jobs or do you enjoy unemployment? The reason Virginia enjoys one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation, 2+% below the National average, is because it is a "business friendly" state. If Virginians are dumb enough to elect a Democrat governor or legislature, they will let Unions do for Virginia what they have done for California and Michigan. Card Check in Virginia will yield double-digit unemployment! Unfortunately, the Democrat Party is Union "owned" and "ACORN managed."

Terry "Slick Willie's Understudy" McAuliffe is as sleazy as his mentor! Hopefully, it doesn't matter which of the three Dems win their primary given the best match up they have, Deeds, is still trailing McDonnell by double digits!

Also, on the 65th anniversary of D-Day the fact that Lieutenant Colonel (USAR Ret) McDonnell is the only candidate in the race that has ever donned a uniform in defense of this nation should not go unnoticed. Given Virginia's huge Military, Military retiree and veteran population, this is significant. Even McDonnell's daughter has more time in uniform defending this country than all three of the democrat challengers put together.

Posted by: A-COL | June 7, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

The analysis comparing the results of presidential and gubernatorial contests in Virginia is somewhat flawed and/or very misleading. Mills Godwin was elected in 1965, not 1969. The actual victor in 1969 was Linwood Holton who became the state's first Republican Governor. This was one year after Nixon beat Humphrey in Virginia. By 1973, Godwin had become a Republican and ran for another term as governor. In that year, Godwin edged out Democrat/Independent Henry Howell just one year after Nixon again took Virginia, this time in a landslide.

Most of the other gubernatorial losses by one side or the other had to do with bitter intraparty conflicts, scandals, or incompetent campaigning and boneheaded mistakes. I don't think the presidential results figured too much in any of these gubernatorial elections.

Posted by: bird-1 | June 7, 2009 3:57 PM | Report abuse

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