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Steve Bennett drops out of Ventura County congressional race

February 13, 2012 |  3:22 pm

Ventura County Supervisor Steve Bennett, widely viewed as a front-runner for an open congressional  seat, has dropped out of the crowded race.

Bennett, who had raised more than $241,000 for the race by the end of last year, said he would seek reelection to the Board of Supervisors.  He announced his decision to drop out of the congressional race to delegates at the California Democratic Party convention in San Diego over the weekend.

 The party made no endorsement in the congressional race after Bennett said he was dropping out.

Bennett on Monday told The Times that it was a tough decision, in part because the congressional race already was crowded and also because he was concerned that his  would-be successors on the Board of Supervisors would undo land-protection and campaign finance laws he worked to put on the books.

"I wrestled with it," Bennett said. "But if you are going to ask for the endorsement at the convention, you have to put your whole heart in it.  And I just wasn't there."

 The seat opened with the recent announcement by Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-Simi Valley) that he will retire rather than seek reelection in the newly  drawn, Democratic-leaning district that no longer includes his home.

Republicans in the race are state Sen. Tony Strickland of Moorpark, Ventura County Supervisor Linda Parks and Ojai educator Akiva Werbalowsky.   Democrats running are Moorpark City Councilman David Pollock, businessman David Cruz Thayne and Port Hueneme Harbor Commissioner Jess Herrera.

With filing not closing until mid-March, there still is time for others to get into the race.


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Photo: Ventura County Supervisor Steve Bennett. Credit: Los Angeles Times