One candidate who hopes to fill Rep. Jim Moran’s congressional seat comes with an unusual set of credentials. Micah Edmond is a Republican, an African American and a religious Jew.
Moran, a Democrat who has represented Virginia’s 8th District since 1991, announced this month that he will not seek re-election. During his tenure, Moran has been at odds with the Jewish community. In at least one incident, the retiring congressman said America would not have gone to war in Iraq if it hadn’t been for all the Jewish support.
When announcing his resignation, Moran declared his seat safe for the Democrats, and it appears there may be at least a dozen people from his party interested in taking his place. Edmond is the lone Republican candidate, although there is a month remaining before the filing deadline.
Despite the fact that Northern Virginia has grown increasingly more Democratic with every election, Edmond views the area as ripe for the taking. He’s targeting the Latino, African American and Asian communities, which are growing but not yet a part of the active political scene, he said.
And, of course, he’s hoping to win over his fellow Jews, who favor the Democratic Party. Still, Edmond believes, “whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, you are Jewish first.”
Still, he carries the Republican torch. “I want constituents to know the honest, practical, tough choices needed to produce a comprehensive long-term budget plan that will solve our fiscal crisis, end sequestration and create the necessary resources to invest in things that will make America great again. Until we solve our fiscal spending crisis, we can’t make investments in priorities like education, infrastructure and energy independence,” he says in his campaign literature.
Edmond, 40, grew up in South Carolina. “When I was in high school, my biological mother just left me,” he said. At that time, he had a close friend who was Jewish, and he sometimes attended services with the whole family. They ended up adopting him but didn’t insist he become Jewish.
“With my parents, it was up to me whether or not I wanted to convert,” he recalled. However, Edmond liked what he saw, particularly the “study, dedication and value system of not leaving anybody behind in the good deeds you do.”
He graduated from Williams College and eventually joined the Marine Corps, moving north to be at the Pentagon.
He found himself working for a lieutenant general who was Jewish and began frequenting a Chabad synagogue in Alexandria.
After leaving the Marines in 2006, Edmond was granted a fellowship from the Israeli foreign ministry and spent about two months in Israel at a time of high tension. He was near the border with Gaza when Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was taken prisoner by Hamas, and he was up north during intense shelling by Hezbollah.
He returned to the United States and began serving in various jobs with the Department of Defense and the U.S. House of Representatives Armed Services Committee. He became president of the Jewish Staffers Association, which is open to those working on Capitol Hill, and includes weekly Torah study.
One thing led to another, and Edmond found himself spending a lot of time with the Orthodox community, and has been attending Ohev Sholom-the National Synagogue regularly since 2007, he said.
He quit his job about two weeks ago to campaign full time, he said. Although he admits his political journey will not be an easy one, “I think it’s entirely possible,”