The Virginia Republican Party settled on its candidate last Saturday in what will be among the most watched mid-term U.S. congressional elections this fall. State Del. Barbara Comstock of McLean has the unenviable task of filling some big GOP shoes.
With the announcement earlier this year by veteran Republican U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf that he will not seek an 18th term in the U.S. Congress, the 10th District of Virginia will now become one of the most hotly contested in the U.S., as the Democrats will make a major push to turn the district blue for the first time since the late 1970s.
Wolf has had a lock on the district since he first won it in 1980 on the GOP tide that swept Ronald Reagan into the White House. The district originally included the City of Falls Church, getting redrawn north and west of the City after the 1990 census. It still borders the City in McLean but now sprawls well out into Loudoun and Prince William counties.
No Democrat has been able to come close to unseating Wolf in all those years, despite some robust efforts recently. It was Wolf’s attention to constituency needs and his willingness to work across the aisle with Northern Virginia Democrats on common needs like transportation that kept him solidly in place.
But with President Obama and U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, both Democrats, having carried the district since 2008, in part due to demographic shifts that have turned it into a 30-percent-minorities district, Comstock will have a high bar to keep the district in GOP hands. Meanwhile, Democrats are targeting it, having selected Fairfax County Supervisor John Foust, like Comstock also from McLean, to be their standard bearer.
Foust was uncontested in winning his party’s formal nomination at a district convention in Sterling last Saturday, while Comstock had a primary battle, mainly against fellow State Del. Bob Marshall of Prince William, before prevailing in a “firehouse primary” that attracted some 16,000 voters held at 10 locations throughout the district on Saturday.
Upon her victory, Comstock issued a statement saying, “It is an honor and a privilege to win by party’s nomination and follow in the footsteps of my mentor, Rep. Frank Wolf. Now is the time for all Republicans to unite and pool our resources together to defend this seat from Nancy Pelosi’s hand-picked candidate. The election in November will be about my plans to get the economy growing again, creating jobs, and repealing and replacing Obamacare. Congress is in desperate need of problem solvers and I intend to use my common sense principles to better the lives of my constituents.”
Foust, who called the GOP primary “a month’s long, bitter and divisive race to the fringe,” congratulated Comstock but added, “Now that she has secured the nomination, my hope is that she’ll take a short break from campaigning to reach across the aisle and pass a budget in Richmond before sending our government over the cliff.”
He charged that “Comstock’s brand of partisan brinksmanship is exactly what’s wrong in Washington. In my seven years on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, my colleagues and I have passed a balanced, bipartisan budget every single year without ever threatening to shut down the government.”
In Virginia’s 8th Congressional District, that does include the City of Falls Church, the GOP selected its candidate for the November election as well. Micah Edmond was chosen, someone that state GOP party chair Pat Mullins described as “a breath of fresh air inside the beltway.”
He is considered a very long shot to wrest the 8th District away from the Democrats, however. Under the leadership of U.S. Rep. Jim Moran, it has been solidly in the hands of progressive Democrats since 1990. This year, with Moran, like Wolf, announcing he will not seek another term, no fewer than 10 Democrats are vying to win a June 10 primary, with the strong odds that whomever wins it will become the next U.S. congressman from that district.
That race continues to heat up. Most or all of the candidates are expected to show up at two big Democratic events on Sunday, the first a breakfast fundraiser by the LGBT Caucus of the Democratic Party of Virginia in Arlington, and the second the Fairfax County Democratic Committee’s annual Jefferson-Jackson Dinner in McLean.
At least four public debates of all 10 candidates have been set up for the next five weeks before the election, starting with one on Monday, May 5, at the Arlington campus of George Mason University, 3351 Fairfax Dr., Arlington, at 7 p.m.