Sixteen years after graduating from GW with a bachelor’s degree in political science, Republican congressional candidate Lisa Marie Cheney is receiving another political education across the river.
Running against Democratic incumbent Rep. James Moran, Jr. for Virginia’s 8th district congressional seat, Cheney’s name will be on the ballot for the first time Tuesday. A longtime member of the Alexandria Republican City Committee, the GW alumna is no stranger to the political process.
“When most children liked cartoons, I was interested in Abraham Lincoln,” said Cheney, who has set her sights on public office since she was in high school.
The daughter of two federal employees, Cheney volunteered on the campaigns of George H.W. Bush and former Kansas Sen. Bob Dole. She graduated from GW in 1988 with a double majored in political science and biology.
“One of my major influences was professor (Hugh) Leblanc, the head of the poli-sci department,” she said. “He had a much more liberal leaning than I do, and we had some heated debates.”
Cheney said she remembered interning for Rep. William Lepinsky, an Illinois Democrat. After originally offering to make coffee for her ideological opposite, Cheney realized the congressman took a liking to her.
“He said to me, ‘You can be my Republican spy,'” Cheney said.
For the past 14 years, Cheney has been working on missile defense issues as the head of PSMA Inc., a national security consulting firm specializing in missile policy. She has made national security one of her top campaign priorities.
“I will never put a price tag on the lives of the men and women in service to our country,” said Cheney, who said that as representative, she would provide necessary funding to troops at home and abroad.
She also attacked Moran for voting against a post-Sept. 11 monetary supplement that would provide funding for the D.C. area to protect its water supply, Metro system and infrastructure.
Recognizing the importance of economic issues, Cheney said she knows that many GW alumni come to Virginia after they graduate to find jobs. Mark Warner, another GW alumnus, is the state’s governor.
“It’s a good thing that students are looking for jobs here because we have the lowest unemployment rate in the country,” Cheney said.
Cheney added that she plans to simplify some of the regulations for those looking to start small businesses, which she said make up a vital part of the Alexandria economy.
A pro-life Republican, Cheney said she supports only adult stem-cell research and not research of embryonic stem cells, which come from a human embryo.
While Cheney has strayed far from her GW roots, she has received help from some current students. Throughout September, the GW College Republicans sent volunteers to her election headquarters.
“The CRs have been an asset to this campaign,” Cheney said.
Justin Neidig, press secretary for the College Republicans, said volunteers did everything from stuffing envelopes to campaigning door-to-door for the Republican candidate.
“It was really great for our chapter to help out a GW alumna,” said Neidig, who added that the campaigning done for Cheney helped the CRs practice for campaign trips in Pennsylvania in October.
Neidig said Cheney was a great candidate to work for and said he hopes she will come speak to his group after the election.
But some local Democrats have criticized Cheney for running a negative campaign against her seven-term incumbent challenger.
Lucy Denney, Virginia’s 8th district Democratic headquarters chair, alleges that at a campaign fundraiser, Cheney inaccurately accused Moran of physically abusing his wife.
“That’s just a despicable thing to say about anyone, especially when it’s a lie,” Denney said.
She added that she predicts Moran will benefit from a strong legislative record and a high level of democratic support in the eighth congressional district.
Cheney said she is ready for Tuesday’s election and hopes that a victory will reflect the support she has received from GW Republican students.
She said, “I hope when I win on Nov. 2, it will be a plug for them and a plug for GW.”