The residents at Ashby Pond got their introduction to LuAnn Bennett on Friday. The Democrat seeks to unseat freshman Congresswoman Barbara Comstock (R) in the 10th Congressional District in November.
Bennett, who owns a real estate management company in Washington, DC, met with members of the Ashburn retirement community’s Progressive Group, answering their questions and collecting petition signatures required to get her name on the ballot this fall.
The race will be in the national spotlight, as both Republicans and Democrats view the district as being in play. Republicans have held the seat since 1981, the year Frank R. Wolf took the seat. Wolf retired at the end of his 17th term in 2014.
Answering questions from the audience, Bennett touched on a range of topics including gun control (she supports requiring background checks at gun shows) and her pro-choice stance (“I trust women”).
Several questions concerned the state of the economy and the prospects for the next generation.
“Finishing off this recovery is a major concern of mine,” Bennett said.
She said it was important to rebuild the middle class and that she supports increasing spending on infrastructure projects, improved job training and increasing the federal minimum wage. The nation’s youth face challenges in preparing for the 21st century economy. “Increasingly education is becoming more and more important but less and less affordable,” she said.
“Our current system isn’t serving our working families,” Bennett said.
Audience members also were concerned about the dysfunction in Congress. Bennett said the partisan focus of drawing election district boundaries discourages cooperation and promotes extremism. In many cases, she said, representatives who work across party lines or try to find compromises lose support back in their home district.
“It’s a serous problem,” she said, but one that none of the elected politicians have incentive to change. “It’s one of those problems that has be solved from the outside in.” She supports having independent commissions take charge of redistricting, something that’s being pursued in several states.
While the 10th Congressional District long has been in Republican hands, it is not exclusively Republican territory, she noted. Voters have supported Wolf and Comstock, but also Democrats like President Barack Obama and Gov. Terry McAuliffe. “It has some balance and basically I like that.”
Bennett noted the district’s more moderate make up has been reflected in Comstock’s voting record on Capitol Hill, which the Democrat said is less conservative than when she was serving as a delegate in Richmond. “It’s a little bit hard to know what she stands for,” Bennett said, adding that highlighting Comstock’s inconsistencies will be a focus of the campaign.