Moran shouldn't run again, say colleagues

6 fellow Democrats decry remark about Jews

March 13, 2003|By Nick Anderson | Nick Anderson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

WASHINGTON - In an unusual repudiation of a colleague, six influential House Democrats asserted yesterday that Rep. James P. Moran Jr. of Virginia should not seek re-election in the aftermath of controversial remarks that he made concerning the Jewish community and a possible war with Iraq.

The six Democrats said Moran's statement last week at an antiwar forum demanded a response beyond verbal condemnation from his leaders and his peers.

At the forum March 3, Moran told an audience in a church in Northern Virginia: "If it were not for the strong support of the Jewish community for this war with Iraq, we would not be doing this." He added: "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."

Moran, 57, a Democrat who was elected in November to his seventh term in the House, issued apologies after reports of the statement began circulating, first in a community newspaper and then in the national media.

Jewish groups and others denounced the statements as perpetuating anti-Semitic stereotypes. Moran said he agreed that his remarks were insensitive.

But for some House Democrats, Moran's apologies weren't enough. In a sharply worded letter to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, six Democrats called Moran's statements unacceptable.

"They are not merely wrong, offensive and ignorant," the six wrote. "Under any interpretation, they violate the basic standards we hold ourselves to as Democrats.

"We hope that as Jim reflects on his actions, he will decide not to seek re-election to the House of Representatives. Should he seek re-election in 2004, however, we cannot and will not support his candidacy."

The signatories to the letter - all of whom are Jewish - are Reps. Henry A. Waxman and Tom Lantos of California, Martin Frost of Texas, Sander M. Levin of Michigan, Benjamin L. Cardin of Maryland and Nita M. Lowey of New York. A Moran spokesman had no immediate comment on the letter.

Nick Anderson writes for the Los Angeles Times, a Tribune Publishing newspaper

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