Democrat Rep. Jim Moran faces a primary challenge Tuesday in his heavily Democratic Northern Virginia district from an Arlington man hoping voters are tired of the 11-term incumbent.
Former Navy pilot Bruce Shuttleworth has a tough task in dethroning Moran, who has easily beaten back Democrats and Republicans during his two decades in office. And Shuttleworth has already experienced the difficulties of taking on a party giant, having to sue to even get on the ballot.
Shuttleworth admits he's ideologically similar to Moran, one of Congress' most liberal Democrats. He has focused his campaign on what he described as Moran's questionable ethics, including shady stock trades and campaign donations from the benefactors of his bills.
It's a similar strategy enlisted by Republican Patrick Murray, who ran against Moran in 2010 and will again in November. Murray is unopposed in the 8th District Republican primary.
"Those very areas that Patrick Murray hammers Jim Moran on, I'm strong," Shuttleworth said. "The 'anybody-but-Moran' vote would disintegrate if he isn't on the ticket."
Moran's campaign shrugged off the attacks as "recycled news that's long been refuted."
"Voters in the 8th District know Congressman Moran," spokesman Austin Durrer said. "He fights for the issues they care about, provides strong, progressive representation, and has helped strengthen the region's economy through his work as a senior member on the Appropriations Committee and as a leader who understands the importance of the federal role in our regional economy."
Moran cruised to victory in every election since he first won the seat in 1990, including challenges from within his party. In two of the past three elections, no primary opposition materialized.
To combat Moran's strong following, Shuttleworth has recruited independents and Republicans to pull a Democratic ballot and support his campaign on Tuesday.
"I can win this by having people that share my concerns about the ethical integrity of Jim Moran, even if they're not a friend of my policies, vote for me," Shuttleworth said. "In the course of my day when I'm talking to independents and Greens and, yes, Republicans, why wouldn't I tell them this is an open primary?"
The 8th District includes Alexandria, Arlington, Falls Church and parts of Fairfax County. Moran is one of four incumbent lawmakers in Virginia facing primary opposition.