Real estate executive LuAnn Bennett announced her bid for Virginia’s 10th District U.S. Congressional seat last week, hoping to be the Democratic nominee in the race for the seat next year.
She will go up against freshman Republican U.S. Rep. Barbara Comstock, who won the seat last year after GOP colleague Frank Wolf, who held the 10th District post for over two decades, retired. Comstock won after serving two terms as a state delegate from her home McLean District.
While Bennett has not run for public office before, she is considered a power in the regional Democratic party and, she told the News-Press, was asked personally by Rep. Don Beyer to seek the job.
She is considered a stronger candidate to challenge Comstock than Fairfax County Supervisor John Foust proved to be a year ago. Next fall’s election will have the presidential race at the top of the ticket, and having Bennett associated with the Democratic candidate, who most expect to be Hillary Clinton, will be a better match-up than Comstock with whomever the GOP nominee will be, pundits say, although that might not hold if Comstock’s personal choice for the GOP presidential nod, Marco Rubio, prevails.
Foust confirmed to the News-Press at a Fairfax County Democratic event at his McLean home that he had decided not to try again next year. He just finished a hard-fought battle for re-election to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors last month.
Bennett is considered a strong choice to go after Comstock’s voting record on women’s health issues. According to Emily’s List, Comstock has supported an abortion ban in cases where the probable age of a fetus is 20 weeks or older, with criminal penalties on doctors who violate the ban. She also voted for a transvaginal ultrasound procedure for all women seeking an abortion while in the state legislature in 2012, and called for the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
But in her campaign announcement last week, Bennett focused on her business skills. “When you run a small business, you work with whomever you need to in order to get results,” she said. “Refusing to work with someone just isn’t an option. I have spent my career in the private sector, identifying challenges, solving problems and working with people to build a better future.”
In a statement issued by the Republican Party of Virginia following Bennett’s announcement last week, it was noted that Comstock “defied all odds last year and won by almost 17 points in a swing district. The Democrats have targeted her in five elections and she has defeated them despite their millions in lame partisan attacks.”
Bennett, who grew up in Illinois, earned a Bachelor’s degree in education from Eastern Illinois University before moving to Northern Virginia in 1980. Here she married her late husband Rick Bennett and built her real estate firm, Bennett Group, which is currently based in Upper Northwest Washington, D.C. Bennett died in 1994 and LuAnn Bennett has continued to run the business since. Following a decade running the business and raising teenage children, she married former U.S. Rep. Jim Moran in 2003 and they were married for seven years before their divorce in 2010. “We’ve preserved a good friendship with mutual respect,” Bennett told the News-Press.
She currently serves on the National Children’s Museum board, the Institute for Sustainable Communities board and the New Jersey & H Educational Foundation Advisory Board. She is a former member of the Virginia Health Care Foundation, Charity Works Advisory Board and she previously served on Virginia’s Climate Change Commission and the board of trustees of the Potomac School in McLean, where she has lived for 35 years.
Concerning GOP presidential front runner Donald Trump, Bennett said, “I found him entertaining for a long time, but now I don’t know what’s going on with the Republican Party. His persistence will help the Democrats. Basing a campaign on anger and fear does not usually turn out well.”
Her goal, she said, is to help fellow Democrats “to change Congress one district at a time,” while she is supporting Clinton for president.