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Features

What makes Brian run?

Nobody's quite sure. But Brian Moore, always the candidate, never the elected, wants your vote for U.S. Senate. And in the political field of his dreams, he's one mighty mouse.

By MICHAEL KRUSE
Published August 6, 2006


photo
[Times photo: Keri Wiginton]
A modern-day Don Quixote, Brian Moore, 63, of Spring Hill, prepares to speak at a peace meeting in Ocala. The U.S. Senate candidate, an Independent, wants to visit every county to share his platform: end the war in Iraq. Accompanying him is his wife’s grandson, 9-year-old Juan Carlos, whom he adopted.

SPRING HILL

Brian Moore is 63 and lives here in Hernando County and is mostly retired and thinks President Bush should be impeached and that the war needs to end now.

People on both sides of the political divide seem angry these days, and are outspoken about it. They usually start blogs, call talk radio shows or even hold up signs somewhere. Brian Moore is running for U.S. Senate.

The campaign started one rainy Thursday afternoon earlier this summer in Meeting Room Two in a public library on the outskirts of Ocala. Five people sat in plastic chairs. Moore passed out black-and-white Xeroxed brochures and had two hours of talk time before he had to make way for a tae kwon do class.

"This is the very first action on the part of our campaign," he told the small group in the room with bare walls, an American flag in one corner and a fake ficus tree in the other. "And even though it's a small group we certainly consider it vital."

Moore has been brick-headed in his perseverance in the pursuit of political office.

He has run for Congress in Florida. Twice.

He has run for mayor in Washington. Four times.

Now this.

"I haven't achieved my cause," he said.

There's pretty much no way he gets elected. No way.

And yet there is something universal and archetypal about a man straining for something that's not within his realistic reach, and fighting battles most folks would call impossible, and knowing that. And still going forward.

* * *

Moore is not a "serious" candidate when it comes to the polls - the incumbent and favorite is Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat, and the main Republican challenger is Katherine Harris - but his third-party campaign puts him smack in the center of this country's most contentious political conversation.

He calls Bush reckless, terrible and irresponsible.

He calls the war unethical, illegal and immoral.

"He's wrong. It's as simple as that," said Vilmar Tavares, 54, of Spring Hill, who runs a blog called Hernando County Concerned Citizens. "He's a cut-and-run apologist and he supports treason as far as I'm concerned."

"Brian is a remarkable, giving and knowledgeable man, and he deserves to carry the banner for people who are still interested in and believe in American democracy," said Don Walters, 80, a World War II veteran from Spring Hill. "It's in the name of American democracy and freedom that he puts himself on the line like this."

* * *

Moore was the second of seven children born to first-generation American Irish Catholics in Northern California.

His father, Nick Moore, who went by Big Nick, was opinionated, strong-willed and proud of his family. He worked for the Southern Pacific Railroad for more than 40 years and was known to talk to cops, doctors and gardeners, and to the garbage man and the homeless man. He sat at the head of a table that his children say was home to lively political and social debate.

"Be a Moore," Nick Moore used to say.

"We were told all our life," said Diane Marie Moore, one of Brian's sisters, who lives in Southern California. "Be an individual. Stand apart."

The Moore siblings have done big things. Diane is a nurse, Dennis Moore is a chiropractor, Kathleen Moore-Alpaugh is a psychotherapist, and Nick Moore Jr. retired as the global chief of the Pricewaterhouse Coopers accounting firm.

But the second-born son of Nick and Rose Moore chose a more winding path.

Brian Moore played baseball, basketball and football in school. He graduated from Mission San Luis Rey College in Oceanside, Calif., entered the Franciscan seminary in the missions of California, then left before becoming a priest. He worked with the poor in the Peace Corps in Peru, Panama and Ecuador and dewormed children in Brazil, Guatemala, Colombia and the Dominican Republic. Back in the States, he has been a marketer, a fundraiser and a consultant in health care in California, Utah, New Jersey, New Mexico, Virginia and Washington, D.C., and most recently he has been a self-employed, semiretired health care executive recruiter.

He married for the first time on Nov. 13, 2003, when he was 60, and adopted his wife's 9-year-old grandson.

He calls himself a "citizen-activist" and four years ago founded the Nature Coast Coalition for Peace and Justice. He drives a small blue stick-shift Mazda with a bumper sticker that says "Out of Iraq NOW."

He reads both of the major Tampa Bay area papers and gets the New York Times delivered and watches CNN and MSNBC and C-SPAN with the volume set on high.

He is a co-manager and the first baseman for a team in an adult baseball league. He's the oldest player, by far, a back-foot hitter with a swing-for-the-fences approach. Brian Moore swings, and swings hard.

He ran for mayor of Washington against Marion Barry in 1986. Got 3 percent of the vote.

He ran as an Independent candidate in 2002 in the District 5 congressional race. Got 2.6 percent of the vote.

He ran as a Democrat for the same seat two years later. Finished third in the primary.

He has won elections for president - of his eighth grade, of the student body at Christian Brothers Academy in Sacramento, Calif., and of his freshman class at St. Mary's College in Moraga, Calif., before he transferred to Mission San Luis Rey. Also of the Good Government League and the Irish-American Society of Hernando County and for a brief time the Spring Hill Civic Association.

This year, on May 12, he got $6,484 in donations he collected from 65 people and took it up to Tallahassee and filed for a run at the Senate.

* * *

History says there's a fine line between admirable perseverance and odd persistence.

Harold Stassen, a Republican former governor of Minnesota who died in 2001, ran for president nine times between 1948 and 1992. Stassen's name became synonymous, and still is, for running, and running, and running.

"You have to run," he said in a 1978 interview, "to be willing to put yourself on the line before you can be really effective. You can talk or write about something and it has some meaning, but to be effective you have to lay it on the line."

The offices Moore seeks keep getting bigger and higher.

"Maybe he's going to run for president in 2008," said his brother Dennis, the chiropractor in San Jose.

One of his sisters likens him to a bull. Another called him "a modern-day St. Francis."

But his siblings all wonder why.

"It's not totally clear to me why he runs again and again," said Nick Moore, the retired chief executive for PricewaterhouseCoopers. "But I can understand. He really does feel a need to influence the dialogue."

Maybe it's because of his athletic background, or his father's influence, or the remnants of the Franciscan training. Or maybe it has something to do with the second son typically taking a different path.

Most of us realize at some point that not everything is right and fair and just, and never will be. We acknowledge that. And accept it.

Not Moore. Not ever.

* * *

On the Thursday a week after the trip to Ocala, Moore stood with fellow members of the Nature Coast Coalition at the busy Spring Hill corner of Mariner and Northcliffe boulevards and held up signs. They do this most every Thursday.

WHAT ARE WE FIGHTING FOR?

BUSH LIED

IMPEACH

Red light. Green light.

A black man drove by in a Mercury Grand Marquis with a silent thumbs up, and a white woman in a Hyundai flashed a peace sign, and a maroon Nissan minivan went by with a honk, honk, honk, and a guy yelled "You suck!" from a dusty old Ford, and then a young white man with bleached blond hair half-climbed out of the driver's-side window of a red hot rod and shouted obscenities over the roof.

"It's usually about three thumbs up and a finger," Moore said. "It used to be the opposite."

But that was three years back, he said, before 2,500 American soldiers were dead, when people in Hernando were more vocal about their opposition to Moore and his stance and his signs. Back, say, on April 17, 2003, when a woman from Spring Hill published a letter to the editor directed at Moore: ". . . quit your whining; the war is almost over. And if you want to know where the victory was, I say look at your TV and see the Iraqi people dancing and celebrating their newfound freedom."

Moore is not just antiwar.

On votebrianmoore.com, he says he wants universal health care and a living wage and no more tax cuts for the wealthy and an end to the two-party "duopoly," and he's anti-big money and anti-special interests.

He says he's going to campaign in all 67 of Florida's counties.

"As far as I'm concerned," he told the people in Ocala, "this is the hope for America. Make 'em deal with you. Make 'em realize you're there."

Which would be an achievement in itself.

* * *

People have their doubts.

Those people include his campaign manager.

And his brothers and sisters.

And his wife.

"He's not even going to really show up in a poll," University of South Florida political science professor Susan MacManus said.

"What real impact any independent can have, I really, really don't know," said Delphine Herbert, the coordinator for the Marions for Peace group in Ocala. "It's hard in a winner-take-all system of government."

"Five percent would be astounding, in my opinion," said Darcy Richardson, his campaign manager, who lives in Jacksonville and is the author of a book called Others, a history of American third-party candidates.

"Realistically, the vast majority of independent candidates have polled around 1 percent or less, but you do it for a couple of reasons - a matter of principle, and you do always, always hope that lightning strikes."

"And whether he gets votes or not," said Bob Tancig, the coordinator for the statewide Florida Coalition for Peace and Justice, "I think he'll feel successful if he gets people talking about what's going on in Iraq."

The cause continues.

"I have chosen to run under these circumstances," Brian Moore wrote in an e-mail in mid June, "because I knew what I was doing was the correct thing, raising the right issues, challenging the corruption and corrupted system, exposing it, forcing people to hear alternative ideas and giving voters a choice, or some little hope, that somebody is speaking their language. And just as importantly, that I could live with myself.

"I believed, as I do now, that these decisions and actions will all make sense in the end. If you do what is right, correct and listen to the spirit within you, that truly moves you in that direction, then one has to follow the spirit and trust. Follow his will. And it will end up all right, and make total sense . . . in the end, even though now sometimes it seems chaotic, unpopular, foolish, strange, mysterious, unanswerable, illogical, or whatever or however one wants to label it. When St. Francis gave up all his wealth and led a life of poverty and dedicated his life to the poor, most people thought he was a fool. In the end, he created a worldwide Order and became a symbol of peace and love for humanity. Something moved him. He followed his spirit. He was true to himself.

"He trusted."

Times researcher Cathy Wos contributed to this report. Michael Kruse can be reached at mkruse@sptimes.com or 352 848-1434.

[Last modified August 4, 2006, 08:35:52]


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