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Northern Virginians learned of another major political retirement Wednesday morning when U.S. Rep. Jim Moran (D-Dist. 8) announced in a released statement that he will not seek re-election this year.

Moran has been a fixture of local politics for 35 years, representing Alexandria and portions of Fairfax County in the House of Representatives since 1991 and serving as a mayor and city councilman in Alexandria prior to that.

“It’s time to close this chapter of my life and move on to the next challenge,” Moran said in a statement. “It’s been an honor to represent Northern Virginia. I couldn’t be more fortunate to have spent my career working with such wonderful people trying to make this one of the best places in the world to live, work and raise a family.”

In December, U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Dist. 10) announced that he will not seek re-election this year after serving in the post for more than three decades.

The retirements will mean that Sen. Mark Warner (D) and U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-11th), who were both first elected in 2008, could become the most senior members of the region’s congressional delegation should they win re-election this fall.

Connolly said Moran has been a friend and mentor for him.

“When I came to Congress as the junior member of the Northern Virginia delegation, Jim was there for me every step of the way,” he said in a released statement.

Moran is known for being outspoken, at times in ways that generated controversy. Despite any missteps, he generally had an easy path to re-election in the strongly Democratic-leaning district.

Among other issues, Moran was a vocal opponent of the Iraq war and is an advocate for gay rights, women’s reproductive rights and gun control, He also chairs the Animal Rights Caucus in the House, which has worked on issues like animal fighting and banning the sale of cat and dog fur.

“He has always been a champion for Northern Virginia, a leader on environmental issues, and a fierce defender of the downtrodden,” Connolly said. “We’re losing an influential and senior member of Congress, a passionate advocate for our region and for the progressive agenda, and someone who has delivered for us time and time again.”

Moran is also known as a strong advocate for federal workers, a key part of his constituency.

“He has stood up against pay cuts and layoffs for our federal workforce even when it was not a popular position to hold,” said state Sen. George Barker (D-Dist. 39) in a released statement.

As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, Moran was able to help steer funding to some of the major tranpsortation projects in the region, including the Woodrow Wilson Bridge replacement and more recently to help with some of the traffic improvements needed to support the expanded defense presence in the Fort Belvoir area.

While they were on opposite sides of the aisle, Wolf said he and Moran worked closely on transportation funding issues and advocating for federal employees.

“Jim is more than a colleague in the House. He is a friend,” Wolf said in a released statement. “He has been a true partner in working for Northern Virginia and will be missed.”

kschumitz@fairfaxtimes.com