January 27, 2014 | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Gay PR exec considering running for Moran seat
Bob Witeck, gay news, Washington Blade

Bob Witeck is considering running for Congress. (Photo courtesy of Bob Witeck)

Bob Witeck, president and founder of the public relations firm Witeck Communications and a longtime LGBT rights advocate, says he’s thinking about running for the U.S. House seat in Northern Virginia currently held by Democratic Rep. James Moran, who’s retiring.

“I would say I’m talking to some folks about the idea,” Witeck told the Blade on Monday. “I would say my chances of doing it are not great but it’s something I want to consider before I would say absolutely not.”

Witeck said friends and supporters approached him about running and offered to help raise money for his campaign should he choose to enter the race.

As many as a dozen or more Democrats are considering or have announced plans to run for the seat in the 8th congressional district in the Democratic primary in June. The winner of the primary is strongly favored to win the November general election in the heavily Democratic district.

Among those expressing interest in running is gay State Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria), whose Senate district includes most of the sections of Arlington, Alexandria, Falls Church, and Fairfax County that make up the 8th congressional district.

Jay Fisette, chair of the Arlington County Board who’s gay, announced last week he isn’t running for Moran’s seat following speculation that he might become a candidate.

“I’m a native of the 8th District,” Witeck said. “I grew up there. It’s my hometown and a community I obviously care about.”

He said one factor making the race attractive to him is the idea of adding to the ranks of openly LGBT people in Congress.

“So there’s something I would want to give some serious thought to,” he said. “I think whoever is the nominee is going to be a very good one because we have a field of very strong people. So to me, getting behind someone is also very likely but at the same time I don’t want to rule it out yet.

Witeck noted that because so many people are likely to compete for the seat in the primary, garnering a plurality rather than an absolute majority of the vote would be sufficient to win the race.

“I think it means that individuals who may not be well known politically will have an opportunity to create a base,” he said.

Since founding the D.C.-based Witeck Communications in 1993, Witeck has represented some of the nation’s major corporations as clients, including American Airlines, Comcast/NBC Universal, MTV Networks, Volvo, and the U.S. Census Bureau. He is a recognized expert in advising businesses on how best to reach out and build bridges to the LGBT community.

Before starting his firm, Witeck served as senior vice president for the international public affairs and public relations firm Hill & Knowlton. Prior to that, he worked on Capitol Hill for more than a decade, serving as communications director for the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation and as a press secretary and legislative assistant.

Among those who have announced they are running for the congressional seat are Don Beyer, the Virginia businessman and former lieutenant governor; Del. Charniele Herring (D-Alexandria), who resigned from her post as chair of the Virginia Democratic Party to make way to run for the congressional seat; Del. Mark Sickles (D-Fairfax); Del. Patrick Hope (D-Arlington); and businessman Bruce Shuttleworth, who lost to Moran in the 2012 Democratic primary.

All have records of support for LGBT rights.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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