Beyer, Edmond battle to replace Moran in Virginia’s 8th district

Democrat Don Beyer, left, and Republican Micah Edmond, right, are vying to replace Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) who is retiring.
Republican Micah Edmond, left, and Democrat Don Beyer, right, are vying to replace Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) who is retiring.

Northern Virginia’s 8th congressional district is solidly blue, and Democrat Don Beyer is a heavy favorite to defeat his Republican opponent, Micah Edmond, in the race to replace Jim Moran, who is retiring after 23 years serving the affluent area across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.

Moran leaves behind a controversial legacy in terms of his relationship with the Jewish community. He was criticized for remarks he made prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, when he told an anti-war audience in Reston that “if it were not for the strong support of the Jewish community for this war with Iraq, we would not be doing this.” In 2007, Moran said AIPAC was “the most powerful lobby” that pushed for the Iraq War. This past August, at the height of the Israel-Gaza conflict, Moran was one of eight representatives to vote against $225 million in funding for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system.

According to the Berman Jewish DataBank, as of 2013 the Jewish population in the 8th congressional district was 30,000.

Edmond is an African-American convert to Judaism. The South Carolina native’s journey to Judaism began when he was adopted by a Jewish family at the end of high school. Edmond is a Marine Corps veteran and was a senior staffer on the House Armed Services Committee while also serving as president of the Congressional Jewish Staff Association. He attends Ohev Sholom-the National Synagogue, a modern Orthodox congregation in Northwest D.C.

Beyer is known to many 8th congressional district residents for his successful auto dealerships. His political career includes serving two terms as Virginia’s lieutenant governor from 1990 to 1998. In 2009, President Barack Obama appointed Beyer as U.S. ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein. JStreetPAC has endorsed Beyer.

With the election around the corner, Washington Jewish Week reached out to both candidates to find out their stances on issues important to the Northern Virginia Jewish community.

Both candidates support a strong U.S.-Israel relationship, but Edmond would like to see the partnership strengthened. He is critical of what he calls the Obama administration’s “peace at any price” policy. Beyer said if elected to Congress, he “will make the security of the Jewish state a priority and will work to continue and strengthen the relationship between the U.S. and Israel.”

Beyer and Edmond also both support a two-state solution negotiated between the Israelis and Palestinians, with mutually agreed-upon land swaps. Beyer believes the two-state solution should be based on the 1967 lines while Edmond is against an “arbitrary return to indefensible pre-1967 borders.” They both want the U.S to play a role in the peace process. Edmond would like to see the U.S. continue to block unilateral attempts by the Palestinians to seek statehood via the U.N. Beyer said “the U.S. holds the unique position to help negotiate the details of the peace process, including borders, security forces and refugee resettlement.”

They are in agreement that a nuclear Iran is the greatest existential threat to the state of Israel. “I think it has a tremendous destabilization effect with respect to Israel but also within the region at large,” said Edmond. As ambassador to Switzerland, Beyer led the effort to persuade the Swiss to enforce the enhanced EU sanctions against Iran. Both Beyer and Edmond support President Obama’s six-month negotiating period with Iran on its nuclear program. Edmond, however, would like to see some “hard specifics” at the end of it, “and if not then we should immediately move to the next level of ratcheting up sanctions.”

“I believe that ISIS is a genuine threat to the world in the middle run, and a clear threat to Iraq, Turkey, Jordan, and even Israel in the short run,” said Beyer. Both candidates support air strikes and are willing to support boots on the ground at some point. Beyer supports the proposal to arm and train a moderate Syrian army with the help of U.S. military advisers, while Edmond is skeptical of plans to train rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) units.

Edmond does not want to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). He would keep what he calls “three good provisions in Obamacare”: insurance despite pre-existing conditions, staying on parent’s plan until age 26 and the exchanges. However, Edmond would like to reform the ACA by allowing insurance companies to sell insurance across state lines, which he said would lower prices and create more competition. Edmond would also like to see small businesses qualify for the same insurance tax credits that large corporations take advantage of.

Beyer supports “the historical achievement of the ACA” and would fight to close the health-care “coverage gap” in Virginia by “expanding Medicaid coverage to hundreds of thousands of uninsured Virginians through a federal/state partnership.”

They both support comprehensive immigration reform. “I believe a path to citizenship must exist for hard-working people who contribute to our economy,” said Beyer. “I also believe that children who came to the U.S. early in life should have the chance to attend college, receive in-state tuition and work toward their dreams just like every other hard-working student.” Edmond believes the most immediate impact that can be made is “giving individuals the opportunity to move from undocumented to documented status. That is where the greatest consensus is – where the priority should be. And we should pass that immediately.”

“Congress needs to immediately pass President Obama’s infrastructure bill. This plan will not only rebuild aging roads and bridges, but will also provide jobs and help strengthen our economy,” said Beyer.

Edmond would also prioritize infrastructure investments along with education and national defense.

Both candidates also support corporate tax reform. “We should focus our tax reform on eliminating corporate welfare, and we should really be looking that if we have these incentives in the tax code, they should be for job creation and education,” said Edmond. Both candidates support raising the minimum wage.

Beyer opposes any effort to privatize Social Security or Medicare, or turn them into any kind of private voucher system. If elected to Congress, he would also work on expanding “current successful social programs” such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Edmond was the senior defense adviser for President Obama’s Simpson Bowles Commission and believes the goal for social programs is to make sure “that you are not cutting benefits for individuals who are currently getting them or are within a couple years of getting them. You are going in and shoring up the system by making adjustments and changes for new people coming into the system primarily.”

Said Beyer: “I support a progressive carbon tax in order to fight climate change, spur green energy programs, and heighten consumer consciousness. A carbon tax is the single most effective way of reducing carbon emissions.” Edmond believes the top priority should be focusing on the economy, not climate change. He is against a carbon tax but does support investing in sustainable energy. “We need to encourage the growth of alternative fuel sources by investing in our energy infrastructure grid,” said Edmond.

Both candidates support expanding background checks by closing the gun show loophole. Expanding gun background checks is “one area we have great public consensus and focus on and can move as quickly as possible,” said Edmond.

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  1. As I understand it there’s a very credible independent candidate in this race – Gwendolyn Beck. What is the justification for totally ignoring her presence, much less her views, in this almost 20 paragraph long article??


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