Tom O'Donoghue, an Iraq War veteran, will be the next GOP candidate to challenge U.S. Rep. Jim Moran (D-8) this fall. O’Donoghue, 41, an account executive at LexisNexis, defeated mortgage lender Mark Ellmore in Tuesday's Republican primary for the 8th Congressional District, which spans Alexandria, Falls Church, Arlington and parts of Fairfax counties, including most of Reston.
"We had a great way of targeting people and a real clear message," said O’Donoghue after the victory.
<b>WITH ALL 141</b> precincts reporting, O’Donoghue received 69 percent of the vote, or 3,058 votes. Ellmore received 31 percent, or 1,344 votes. Only 0.54 percent of the district’s 818,000 registered voters turned out for the election.
O’Donoghue ran on a three-legged platform: tighter border control to crack down on illegal immigration, support for the war in Iraq and making President George Bush's tax cuts permanent. He said he’d also like to see Congress grapple with a broader discussion to end American dependence on foreign oil.
With the primary decided, O’Donoghue arrived at an event with U.S. Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) Tuesday night just after 8 p.m. to celebrate with his wife Kathy at the party in Arlington.
With the Bronze Star he received for his military service in Iraq pinned to his lapel, O’Donoghue waded through a crowd of a couple of hundred people, thanking supporters.
"We have good quality people, so now it’s a matter of scaling up the campaign," said O’Donoghue, setting his sights on Moran, an eight-term incumbent and former mayor of Alexandria.
<b>ELLMORE,</b> a religious evangelical Christian, ran on the promise of putting compassion back in "compassionate conservatism," which wasn’t just a catchphrase for Ellmore but an ideal gone astray in Washington.
"We’re trying to rebuild a positive, new outlook for the Republican party," said Ellmore. During the campaign, Ellmore, 47, tried to reach out to all voters, including constituents who traditionally support Democrats, such as labor organizations and African-Americans. The strategy may have backfired since primaries typically attract the most active party loyalists.
"I wouldn’t change anything. We simply did the best we could. God’s will was done," said Ellmore, satisfied that he ran an open and honest campaign. "I just want to say congratulations to Tom and wish him all the success in the world."
O’Donoghue’s supporters expect a tough five months given the makeup of the heavily Democratic district.
"It’s going to be an uphill battle," said Robert Pasicov, a McLean resident who supported O’Donoghue.
Already, O’Donoghue is running behind, with just $237 left on hand as of May 24, while Moran listed nearly $474,000 in the coffers.
"We’ll have to run a better campaign. We don’t have the luxury that money brings you, that incumbency brings you," said O’Donoghue.
The race will also include Independent candidate Jim Hurysz.