By Emily Sharrer
Before he had considered politics, Jim Moran, the incumbent in the 8th Congressional District election, had his heart set on being a professional football player. As the son of professional football player James Moran, Sr., who played for the Boston Redskins in the 1930s, Moran had football in his blood. But unsure he had the discipline to play professional ball, Moran set his sights on politics, mostly he says because he “cared so much about the issues involved.”
But before Moran could jump start his political career, he had one setback to overcome: his absolute fear of public speaking.
“When I was afraid I was going to get called on, I would turn bright red,” said Moran, “I’d start perspiring and it went right through my shoes and the palms of my hands. It was so embarrassing.”
Moran can recall with clarity the first time he gave a campaign speech to an audience, which included his two young children.
“I’ll never forget my son putting his head between his legs and my daughter putting her hands on her ears, wishing this wasn’t happening to their father,” said Moran, “and then I fainted on stage.”
After a couple more fainting incidents, Moran overcame his fear, with “the knowledge that nothing could be worse than it already had been,” he says.
Moran has come a long way since his early struggles with public speaking. Moran is currently co-teaching a class at George Mason University with former 11th district House of Representatives member Tom Davis and has represented Virginia’s 8th Congressional District since 1991.
After Moran and Davis’ spring 2010 course entitled “Political Parties and Campaigns” got rave reviews from students, the pair was asked back to teach it again this semester. Although this semester Moran’s campaigning has kept him out of class some Mondays, he is there as often as possible.
According to Andrew Decelle, one of Moran’s students, Davis and Moran provide good insight on issues covered in class because of their political backgrounds.
“He’s very knowledgeable,” said Decelle of Moran. “He’s very good in that he will not just give you a bias of his party, but more of a centrist view.”
As for representing Virginia’s 8th District, Moran says that even after 20 years, he never gets bored.
“I represent the best congressional district in the entire country,” said Moran. “We have an unemployment rate that is half the national average, we have a more inclusive, embracing society, we have a community of interest where people help each other and are on the cutting edge of new technology and innovation. As long as I love it so much, I intend to continue running for office every two years.”