Brian Moran, a former Arlington prosecutor, state legislator and state Democratic Party chairman, has been appointed Virginia's next secretary of public safety, Gov.-elect Terry McAuliffe announced Friday morning in the Arlington County Courthouse.
McAuliffe called Moran, the younger brother of U.S. Rep. Jim Moran, a "proven leader with a wealth of knowledge about public safety" who would be a "solid day-to-day manager" and provide a steady hand in a crisis.
"Public safety is the No. 1 job of any government," McAuliffe said. The secretary of public safety oversees 11 state agencies, including the Virginia State Police, Alcoholic Beverage Control and the Department of Juvenile Justice.
The incoming governor also praised Moran's work as a legislator, including his championing of Alicia's Law, which is designed to prevent the exploitation of children online and combat the trafficking of child pornography.
Moran said he looked forward to working with McAuliffe on a broad range of issues, including investing in rehabilitation and reentry programs.
"I've always felt it's the two pillars of public safety — it's not only the punishment, it's the prevention," he said. "Because if we can prevent a crime, that's one less victim."
With the anniversary of the Sandy Hook tragedy one day away, McAuliffe repeated his support for universal background checks for gun buyers and both men said they supported more resources for mental health.
Moran noted that the time he spent in Richmond was as a minority member, so he had experience reaching across the aisle to get things done.
"We will find common ground on these issues," he said. "Public safety is not a partisan issue."
Moran, McAuliffe and state Sen. Creigh Deeds fought in 2009 to capture their party's nomination — a battle Deeds eventually won, though Republican Bob McDonnell went on to win the general election that year.
Some of the attacks lobbed at McAuliffe during his most recent run for governor were repeats from his 2009 bid. In a May 2009 debate, for instance, Moran raised questions as to how Virginians could trust McAuliffe to grow jobs and criticized his lack of experience.
"I don't have time to teach you the legislative process, nor do Virginians have time for you to learn," he told McAuliffe in that debate, according to a Washington Post story from the time.
McAuliffe touched on that rivalry in his opening remarks Friday.
"Brian and I have a bit of a history together," he said, to a few chuckles. "We are both Irish. We both have a zeal for life. And we are both tough competitors."
He added: "But we have always been friends."
Moran served as a prosecutor for seven years in Arlington. From 1996 to 2008, he represented Virginia's 46th District in the state House of Delegates. That district includes parts of Alexandria and Fairfax County and is currently represented by Democratic Del. Charniele Herring, who is also now head of the state Democratic Party.
Moran served as Democratic Party of Virginia chairman from December 2010 to December 2012.
Arlington County Police Chief Doug Scott said he was glad to see someone with experience in the Commonwealth's Attorney's Office appointed to the role of secretary of public safety.
"He's in a position to provide great support for what we do," he said.
When asked, McAuliffe said he would be open to discussing reforming the state's Freedom of Information Act "as much as we can" to allow for the continuing operation of state government.