CHARLOTTESVILLE — U.S. Marine Corps veteran Claire Russo announced her campaign Tuesday for the Democratic nomination for Virginia’s 5th Congressional District, joining an already crowded field.

According to a news release, Russo joined the Marines at 23 and served as an intelligence officer in the First Marine Expeditionary Force and the First Marine Air Wing.

After being sexually assaulted by a Marine aviator in 2004, Russo sought to hold her attacker accountable and has since become an advocate for women’s equality in the military.

After her service with the Marines, Russo worked as a civilian with the U.S. Army as a counter- insurgency adviser and, after returning to the United States, she worked as a fellow for the Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs and studied the role of women in combat and conflicts.

Russo lives in Earlysville with her three children and her husband, Josh.

“I’m running for Congress because I believe there are far too many political games being played in Washington and far too few people standing up for families like ours,” Russo said in her announcement. “As a Marine, my focus was getting the job done and I’ll bring that same focus to represent our community. That means ensuring quality affordable health care, protecting retirement for seniors, and working to make sure our kids have the same opportunities that we did.”

Russo is now the fifth Democrat to announce her intentions to run for the nomination, joining R.D. Huffstetler, Dr. Cameron Webb, Kim Daugherty and John Lesinski. The nominee will be elected via a primary ballot in 2020.

Bob Good, an athletics official at Liberty University, is challenging Republican Rep. Denver Riggleman for the GOP nomination.

The 5th District, which is larger than the state of New Jersey, stretches from Fauquier County to the North Carolina border, including most of the Charlottesville area.

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