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Byrne Creates Exploratory Committee for Moran Race

Virginia state Sen. Leslie Byrne (D) formed an exploratory campaign committee this week, moving her one step closer to officially entering the race against embattled Rep. Jim Moran (D) next year.

“I give that a month or so to see what kind of support is out there,” Byrne said in an interview Wednesday. “That will determine the next step.”

Byrne, who represented Virginia’s 11th district in the House from 1992 to 1994, said she is still gathering names and supporters for the committee she began assembling Tuesday.

Also Tuesday, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Kate Hanley (D) announced that she will forgo seeking another term in November, fueling speculation that she is also gearing up for a bid against Moran.

“It’s time to move on,” Hanley told The Washington Post. “There are other opportunities that are very timely for me to consider.”

Moran has represented the heavily Democratic 8th district since 1990.

The other potential Democratic candidates mentioned are: former Lt. Gov. Don Beyer, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors member Gerald Connolly, state Sen. Janet Howell, state Del. Ken Plum, Alexandria Mayor Kerry Donley and attorney Jeremy Bash.

Byrne sounded undeterred by the number of people who have expressed interest in the race.

“I’m sure given the situation, we’re going to have just a whole parade of people,” Byrne said.

Moran has faced considerable criticism from both parties after suggesting that the Jewish community was pushing the United States toward war with Iraq at an anti-war forum in Reston on March 3.

“If it were not for the strong support of the Jewish community for this war with Iraq, we would not be doing this,” Moran said at the forum, as first reported by the Reston Connection.

He has since apologized for the remarks, which he said were taken out of context and part of a broader point.

Last week, Moran relinquished a minor leadership post and six of his Jewish colleagues called on him not to seek re-election.

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