Contributor Post Created with Sketch. New Face of the Republican Party

 

barbara-comstockSomething quite startling happened in a close House race in northern Virginia this year. The Washington Post endorsed the incumbent Republican, Barbara Comstock. Comstock has been a familiar figure in the region for decades, but not in a way that would typically earn the Post’s admiration. In the 1990s, as chief counsel to the House Oversight and Reform Committee, she made the Clintons sweat with investigations into their Hydra-headed scandals. She served three terms in the Virginia House of Delegates, winning each time in a district that leaned Democrat. In 2014, she ran for and won a seat she now holds by a 16-point margin.

In a year when the two major party presidential nominees are dismaying and demoralizing, it’s a relief to pay tribute to a politician who is honorable, able, and worthy.

Comstock knocked on 10,000 doors in each of her races for the House of Delegates, and was dogged and diligent about constituent service. From transportation to cyber security to snow emergencies, she filled her district’s inboxes with helpful information and offers of assistance.

Virginia’s sprawling 10th congressional district extends from the close-in suburbs of Washington DC all the way to the Shenandoah Valley bordering West Virginia. It’s a great district for a fearful flyer (not that Comstock is, just saying). But accessibility is double-edged sword. Most of the district lies within a couple of hours’ drive from the capital (some parts much closer), but that means the representative is expected at pretty much every event. A scroll through Comstock’s Facebook page shows that she almost never begs off. She is like Zelig – everywhere. I once asked her how many nights per week she attends events. She allowed as how it’s usually seven. An Indian-American meet and greet, a Korean barbeque night, a high tech conference (the Dulles corridor is the Washington area’s Silicon Valley), a high school homecoming, a veterans’ event, a film festival, a maternity home, a firefighters open house, a breast cancer awareness event, a Columbus Day parade (in the rain).

For 34 years, the district was represented by Republican Frank Wolf, whose particular passion was human rights. Since leaving Congress he has worked with the Wilberforce Initiative, defending victims of religious persecution. Comstock has upheld the tradition, cosponsoring two pieces of legislation on human trafficking, demanding that the Obama Administration devise plans to defeat ISIS, and initiating legislation to label ISIS’s crimes against Christians and others as “genocide.”

The 10th district was happy with Wolf, but that doesn’t make it a safe Republican seat. It went for Romney by a margin of just one percent in 2012 and for Ken Cuccinelli by just one point in the 2013 governor’s race. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee targeted Comstock in 2015, hoping to make her a “one-term wonder.” They got a huge assist not from Democrats, who had trouble drafting a challenger, but from Republicans. Trump is trailing by about 10 points in Virginia, and is loathed in suburban communities like Fairfax County. GOP consultant Tucker Martin tweeted “He’s at 29% in VA. Which is what you would get if you got nominated, burnt down Monticello, and then went on vacation until November.” (Actually, RCP puts Trump at 39 percent in Virginia, but the point stands.)

LuAnn Bennett, a real estate executive whose own domicile has raised questions (the Washington Free Beacon reports that Bennett lived at the Ritz-Carlton in the District of Columbia and only acquired a rental in the district eight days before declaring her candidacy), offers the usual Democratic Party talking points: equal pay for women (which has been law since 1963), a minimum wage increase to $15 per hour, universal pre-K, and paid family leave. She unintentionally provoked laughter at a Loudoun Chamber of Commerce appearance when she praised the ACA for “making healthcare more affordable.”

Through constituent service, opposition to Obamacare, support for defense, outreach to minorities, and hostility to grandstanding government shutdowns, Comstock earned the endorsements of every major newspaper in her district. Bennett is struggling to hang Trump around Comstock’s neck. But Comstock never endorsed Trump, and in the aftermath of the “Access Hollywood” tape’s release, condemned his statements as “vile, disgusting, and disqualifying.”

If the Republican Party is going to survive post-2016, Barbara Comstock is exactly the sort of leader to help it rise from the rubble. She could be, she should be, the new face of the party.

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  1. terichristoph Podcaster

    I live in Comstock’s district. My sense is that she’s in real trouble.

    • #1
    • October 27, 2016, at 1:14 PM PDT
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  2. Hoyacon Member

    terichristoph:I live in Comstock’s district. My sense is that she’s in real trouble.

    She could be a casualty of Trump. I’m sure that you’ve noticed how the ads of her opponent–the ex Mrs. Jim Moran–try to tie her to him. I go by her campaign office in Chantilly fairly frequently at night, and they are working, so the effort is there. And, as much as WaPo can be annoying, the “we-pick-a-Republican-every-so-often” endorsement will help. Eastern Loudoun is moving blue, but I’m thinking she’ll get by.

    • #2
    • October 27, 2016, at 1:40 PM PDT
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  3. terichristoph Podcaster

    Hoyacon:

    terichristoph:I live in Comstock’s district. My sense is that she’s in real trouble.

    She could be a casualty of Trump. I’m sure that you’ve noticed how the ads of her opponent–the ex Mrs. Jim Moran–try to tie her to him. I go by her campaign office in Chantilly fairly frequently at night, and they are working, so the effort is there. And, as much as WaPo can be annoying, the “we-pick-a-Republican-every-so-often” endorsement will help. Eastern Loudoun is moving blue, but I’m thinking she’ll get by.

    I think she probably will, too, but I am surprised at how well Bennett is doing in LoCo (I’m in Leesburg). It is definitely going to be interesting to see how Trump affects the down ballot candidates!

    • #3
    • October 27, 2016, at 2:13 PM PDT
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  4. Petty Boozswha Inactive

    Do you think she will be the Republican candidate for Tim Kaine’s seat in the special election?

    • #4
    • October 27, 2016, at 2:14 PM PDT
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  5. terichristoph Podcaster

    Petty Boozswha:Do you think she will be the Republican candidate for Tim Kaine’s seat in the special election?

    Oooh, good question. I think it will depend on how she fares on Nov. 8th, but it’s an intriguing thought.

    • #5
    • October 27, 2016, at 2:18 PM PDT
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  6. Hoyacon Member

    terichristoph:

    Petty Boozswha:Do you think she will be the Republican candidate for Tim Kaine’s seat in the special election?

    Oooh, good question. I think it will depend on how she fares on Nov. 8th, but it’s an intriguing thought.

    I guess we pessimists are thinking that there will be a special election? :)

    What’s Cucinelli up to? McAwful-Cucinelli rematch for the Senate?

    • #6
    • October 27, 2016, at 2:21 PM PDT
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  7. Petty Boozswha Inactive

    I think win or lose she would have a good rationale for running.

    • #7
    • October 27, 2016, at 2:21 PM PDT
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  8. Profile Photo Member

    Hoyacon: McAwful-Cucinelli rematch for the Senate?

    Is he term limited? Would some Virginian please explain to me why anyone would vote for McCauliffe? He makes my skin crawl.

    • #8
    • October 27, 2016, at 2:54 PM PDT
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  9. Hoyacon Member

    Carol:

    Hoyacon: McAwful-Cucinelli rematch for the Senate?

    Is he term limited? Would some Virginian please explain to me why anyone would vote for McCauliffe? He makes my skin crawl.

    Yes, he’s out at the end of ’17. So theoretically he could step down to run without losing too much of his term. As for the “why,” you’re preaching to the choir, but my sense is that he’s less popular now than when he ran. And don’t forget that the Cucinelli almost beat him then (contrary to the polling) after being left in the lurch by the RNC.

    I’m not so sure that we’re done with Bob McDonnell either.

    • #9
    • October 27, 2016, at 3:03 PM PDT
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  10. terichristoph Podcaster

    Hoyacon:

    Carol:

    Hoyacon: McAwful-Cucinelli rematch for the Senate?

    Is he term limited? Would some Virginian please explain to me why anyone would vote for McCauliffe? He makes my skin crawl.

    Yes, he’s out at the end of ’17. So theoretically he could step down to run without losing too much of his term. As for the “why,” you’re preaching to the choir, but my sense is that he’s less popular now than when he ran. And don’t forget that the Cucinelli almost beat him then (contrary to the polling) after being left in the lurch by the RNC.

    I’m not so sure that we’re done with Bob McDonnell either.

    Oh, gosh, I hope McDonnell takes some time off to recoup — 2017 seems too soon. I wonder if Ed Gillespie would switch from Gov to Sen?

    As for why Virginians would vote for McAwful — it’s because so many Marylanders are moving south! They’re polluting the political waters. Plus, SO many NoVirginians are dependent on the federal government for their jobs and they vote in their best interests. SIGH.

    • #10
    • October 27, 2016, at 3:33 PM PDT
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  11. fidelio102 Coolidge

    Saw the Comstock-Bennett debate on C-span. Wish the presidential candidates debated issues at the same level. Comstock very impressive and defended her record admirably.

    • #11
    • October 27, 2016, at 3:53 PM PDT
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  12. lowtech redneck Coolidge

    UGH! Barbara Comstock has a 20% rating by Conservative Review; she MIGHT be tolerable as the best Republicans can do in Northern Virginia, but there is no way in Hades any conservative should want her as “the new face of the party!”

    • #12
    • October 27, 2016, at 4:04 PM PDT
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  13. Blondie Thatcher

    lowtech redneck:UGH! Barbara Comstock has a 20% rating by Conservative Review; she MIGHT be tolerable as the best Republicans can do in Northern Virginia, but there is no way in Hades any conservative should want her as “the new face of the party!”

    Now you get it.

    • #13
    • October 27, 2016, at 4:45 PM PDT
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  14. Hoyacon Member

    Blondie:

    lowtech redneck:UGH! Barbara Comstock has a 20% rating by Conservative Review; she MIGHT be tolerable as the best Republicans can do in Northern Virginia, but there is no way in Hades any conservative should want her as “the new face of the party!”

    Now you get it.

    If “getting it” means ignoring electability, I suppose that’s true. Let’s see on Oct. 9 whether supporters of the presidential candidate “got it.” BTW, Comstock’s ACU rating (I have no idea when Conservative Review came to town on this) is 50%. Great? No. So we’d rather have a (D)?

    • #14
    • October 27, 2016, at 4:58 PM PDT
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  15. Blondie Thatcher

    Hoyacon:

    Blondie:

    lowtech redneck:UGH! Barbara Comstock has a 20% rating by Conservative Review; she MIGHT be tolerable as the best Republicans can do in Northern Virginia, but there is no way in Hades any conservative should want her as “the new face of the party!”

    Now you get it.

    If “getting it” means ignoring electability, I suppose that’s true. Let’s see on Oct. 9 whether supporters of the presidential candidate “got it.”

    My point is the same as @lowtech-redneck. Yes, she may be the only type of Republican that can be elected in No. Virginia (just like a Rudy or Christie in their respective states) but to say conservatives should like her as the new face of the party? No.

    • #15
    • October 27, 2016, at 5:07 PM PDT
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  16. Hoyacon Member

    Blondie:

    Hoyacon:

    Blondie:

    lowtech redneck:UGH! Barbara Comstock has a 20% rating by Conservative Review; she MIGHT be tolerable as the best Republicans can do in Northern Virginia, but there is no way in Hades any conservative should want her as “the new face of the party!”

    Now you get it.

    If “getting it” means ignoring electability, I suppose that’s true. Let’s see on Oct. 9 whether supporters of the presidential candidate “got it.”

    My point is the same as @lowtech-redneck. Yes, she may be the only type of Republican that can be elected in No. Virginia (just like a Rudy or Christie in their respective states) but to say conservatives should like her as the new face of the party? No.

    Sure, and you’re right. But I’d suggest that we check the individual votes comprising her ratings before making a final decision. For example, I don’t see her being pro-TPP and anti-abortion as exactly a 50-50 proposition as the ratings might indicate.

    • #16
    • October 27, 2016, at 5:20 PM PDT
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  17. Jager Coolidge
    Jager Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Blondie:

    Hoyacon:

    Blondie:

    lowtech redneck:UGH! Barbara Comstock has a 20% rating by Conservative Review; she MIGHT be tolerable as the best Republicans can do in Northern Virginia, but there is no way in Hades any conservative should want her as “the new face of the party!”

    Now you get it.

    If “getting it” means ignoring electability, I suppose that’s true. Let’s see on Oct. 9 whether supporters of the presidential candidate “got it.”

    My point is the same as @lowtech-redneck. Yes, she may be the only type of Republican that can be elected in No. Virginia (just like a Rudy or Christie in their respective states) but to say conservatives should like her as the new face of the party? No.

    I love Mark Kirk as the Senator from blue state Illinois. He is way better than a Democrat would be. That does not mean that he should be the face of the Republican Party.

    • #17
    • October 27, 2016, at 5:24 PM PDT
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  18. DocJay Inactive

    The new face of the GOP is an undertaker.

    • #18
    • October 27, 2016, at 5:29 PM PDT
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  19. Hoyacon Member

    Jager:I love Mark Kirk as the Senator from blue state Illinois. He is way better than a Democrat would be. That does not mean that he should be the face of the Republican Party.

    Kirk is an extreme example, and I get that Charen is out of favor here, but are we going to restrict the “new face” to people who come from areas where they don’t have to bow to political realities? Frank Wolf–my congressman for many years–was a great rep, and Comstock has his blessing. Does she have the luxury of being from Idaho, Montana or parts of Texas? No. Is she an appealing, electable (female) candidate? Maybe we need to face the realities of urban/suburban politics.

    • #19
    • October 27, 2016, at 5:31 PM PDT
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  20. DocJay Inactive

    Hoyacon:

    Jager:I love Mark Kirk as the Senator from blue state Illinois. He is way better than a Democrat would be. That does not mean that he should be the face of the Republican Party.

    Kirk is an extreme example, and I get that Charen is out of favor here, but are we going to restrict the “new face” to people who come from areas where they don’t have to bow to political realities? Frank Wolf–my congressman for many years–was a great rep, and Comstock has his blessing. Does she have the luxury of being from Idaho, Montana or parts of Texas? No. Is she an appealing, electable (female) candidate? Maybe we need to face the realities of urban/suburban politics.

    If the cities start to turn more GOP after the presumptive dismal Clinton presidency then maybe so.

    • #20
    • October 27, 2016, at 5:48 PM PDT
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  21. Jager Coolidge
    Jager Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Hoyacon:

    Jager:I love Mark Kirk as the Senator from blue state Illinois. He is way better than a Democrat would be. That does not mean that he should be the face of the Republican Party.

    Kirk is an extreme example, and I get that Charen is out of favor here, but are we going to restrict the “new face” to people who come from areas where they don’t have to bow to political realities? Frank Wolf–my congressman for many years–was a great rep, and Comstock has his blessing. Does she have the luxury of being from Idaho, Montana or parts of Texas? No. Is she an appealing, electable (female) candidate? Maybe we need to face the realities of urban/suburban politics.

    Like I said, I am not making a true purity call here. In a blue part of the country I am happy to have her win. With the caveat that Conservative Score cards are not all the same and not necessarily great, the Conservative Review has roughly 60 Democrat House members with the same or better scores as Comstock.

    To be the new face of the Republican party, I don’t think your voting should be that close to the middle of the Democrat Party.

    • #21
    • October 27, 2016, at 5:53 PM PDT
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  22. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Jager: I love Mark Kirk as the Senator from blue state Illinois. He is way better than a Democrat would be. That does not mean that he should be the face of the Republican Party.

    I agree with that pro-abortion, anti-global warming squish maybe 20% of the time. I probably agree with Duckworth maybe 10% of the time. Should I go weak in the knees for 10%?

    • #22
    • October 27, 2016, at 7:01 PM PDT
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  23. Hoyacon Member

    Jager:Like I said, I am not making a true purity call here. In a blue part of the country I am happy to have her win. With the caveat that Conservative Score cards are not all the same and not necessarily great, the Conservative Review has roughly 60 Democrat House members with the same or better scores as Comstock.

    To be the new face of the Republican party, I don’t think your voting should be that close to the middle of the Democrat Party.

    Perhaps not. I tried to follow up a bit, but the CR site was insufficiently specific about their standards and the votes in question. They appeared to agree with her 47% of the time, but somehow that devolved into a much lower rating. ACU has been the gold standard for this stuff for as long as I can remember, so my preference would be to stick with them absent some reason to go with newbies. Again, I’m absolutely not a believer in an “all votes are created equal” philosophy in compiling this stuff, so, without more specifics, this is a tough call to make.

    • #23
    • October 27, 2016, at 9:54 PM PDT
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  24. TKC1101 Inactive

    There was a time , long ago when both parties had conservatives, moderates and liberals. The donors had to spread the money, the interest groups had to court both parties and stuff basically got done. There were no red and blue states.

    This shift to ideological purity has been good for Progressive Inc and Conservative Inc and absolute crap for the nation.

    I long for the day when parties can go back to being machines to win elections and courted as broad a base as possible.

    • #24
    • October 27, 2016, at 11:33 PM PDT
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  25. Hoyacon Member

    FWIW, Comstock appears “weak” on some spending issues. However, she voted– to defund Planned Parenthood, to ban late term abortions, to repeal the death tax, to authorize school choice in DC, to retain sanctions on Iran, to continue funding Guantanamo, and to prohibit the use of federal funds to pay workers when engaged in union activities.

    • #25
    • October 28, 2016, at 3:19 AM PDT
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  26. PsychLynne Inactive

    Comstock is my representative, and I have been treated well and respectfully by her office over the last five years as both a constituent and an advocate for a particular piece of legislation as part of my profession.

    As far as being the face of the conservative movement, why not? This is a big country with a lot of heterogeneity, we need multiple faces that represent the multiple views of the movement. If we want to win and actually have the ability to influence and implement change, we need the firebrands pushing for more than we will achieve given our current electorate, we need the policy wonks who can figure out how to execute the lofty goals through sound sound policy and we need the negotiators…and then we need for each of those groups to respect each other without calling them names and casting people from the party, and impugning their motives.

    • #26
    • October 28, 2016, at 3:52 AM PDT
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  27. Douglas Pratt Coolidge
    Douglas Pratt Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Mona Charen:barbara-comstock

    Comstock knocked on 10,000 doors in each of her races for the House of Delegates, and was dogged and diligent about constituent service. From transportation to cyber security to snow emergencies, she filled her district’s inboxes with helpful information and offers of assistance.

    I hope she makes it. She’s doing it right, being everywhere. My daughter worked on the campaigns of three Republican Delegates while Comstock was doing her first run, and saw her frequently while pounding the pavement for Tom Rust in Herndon. Last year we moved to upstate New York, and we have two local Republicans who are also doing it right: Chris Collins in the House and Rob Ortt in the State Senate. Both are at local events almost every day, whether making a speech, giving a talk to school kids, or grip-and-grinning with the Chamber. That’s the way it’s supposed to work.

    • #27
    • October 28, 2016, at 6:00 AM PDT
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  28. Larry3435 Inactive

    Hoyacon:

    terichristoph:I live in Comstock’s district. My sense is that she’s in real trouble.

    She could be a casualty of Trump.

    There will be a lot of casualties of Trump, and every one of them will be a Republican. Trump will likely flip the Senate to the Democrats, and cost us a number of House seats. And the “Party of Trump” will be the Democratic war cry for the next generation. There has never been such an effective campaigner for the Democrats in their history. It is hard not to wonder if that was Trump’s plan all along.

    • #28
    • October 28, 2016, at 7:00 AM PDT
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  29. terichristoph Podcaster

    Douglas Pratt:

    Mona Charen:barbara-comstock

    Comstock knocked on 10,000 doors in each of her races for the House of Delegates, and was dogged and diligent about constituent service. From transportation to cyber security to snow emergencies, she filled her district’s inboxes with helpful information and offers of assistance.

    I hope she makes it. She’s doing it right, being everywhere. My daughter worked on the campaigns of three Republican Delegates while Comstock was doing her first run, and saw her frequently while pounding the pavement for Tom Rust in Herndon. Last year we moved to upstate New York, and we have two local Republicans who are also doing it right: Chris Collins in the House and Rob Ortt in the State Senate. Both are at local events almost every day, whether making a speech, giving a talk to school kids, or grip-and-grinning with the Chamber. That’s the way it’s supposed to work.

    You’re absolutely correct, Comstock IS everywhere. She may have some faults, but she is definitely in tune with what’s going on in her district.

    • #29
    • October 28, 2016, at 7:25 AM PDT
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  30. The Executive Courier Inactive

    Bring back Paul Trible!

    • #30
    • October 28, 2016, at 11:25 AM PDT
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