Republicans in two Northern Virginia House districts selected their nominees Saturday, one of them a three-term female delegate and the other an African American Marine veteran. Barbara Comstock, a former congressional aide, won her firehouse primary to be the GOP nominee for Virginia's 10th congressional district. The seat was long held by retiring Republican congressman Frank Wolf, for whom Comstock once worked. Here's more from the Washington Post:
The victory sends Comstock into what is expected to be a tight general election contest with Democratic nominee John W. Foust, a Fairfax County supervisor representing part of McLean and Great Falls.
In contrast to a number of recent Republican losses in Virginia featuring conservative GOP nominees, Comstock’s support from the party establishment and her effort to cast herself as a pragmatist may put the GOP in position to keep the seat held by Wolf for 34 years.
“The election in November will be about my plans to get the economy growing again, creating jobs, and repealing and replacing Obamacare,” Comstock said in a statement. “Congress is in desperate need of problem solvers and I intend to use my common sense principles to better the lives of my constituents when I am elected in November.”
Meanwhile, in another nearby district outside of Washington, Micah Edmond, a black veteran of the Marine Corps and a convert to Judaism, won the GOP nomination in the 8th congressional district. The liberal district is currently held by retiring Democrat Jim Moran. Democrats will choose their nominee in a June 10 primary.
Republicans have struggled recently in Northern Virginia, but candidates like Edmond, Comstock, and another likely GOP House nominee, Suzanne Scholte, may be changing the face of the party. That could help the Republican running at the top of the ticket in 2014, Senate candidate Ed Gillespie:
Tom Davis and other Northern Virginia Republicans hope Scholte and Comstock can win in November, but at the very least their candidacies could change the face of the party and help the Republican most likely to be at the top of the ticket: U.S. Senate candidate Ed Gillespie.
Gillespie is a longtime party strategist and former Republican National Committee chairman with plenty of experience running campaigns. He’s also leading the race for the Senate nomination heading into the party’s June 7 nominating convention in Roanoke. Gillespie’s announcement in January that he would challenge incumbent Democrat Mark Warner turned more than a few heads in Washington. Suddenly Warner, a popular former governor and perceived moderate, looked vulnerable.
Gillespie points out that Warner votes with Barack Obama “97 percent of the time” and isn’t the “radical centrist” he claims to be. Like every Republican running against a sitting Democratic senator in 2014, he’ll make the case that Warner was the deciding vote on Obamacare. Gillespie promises to bring a strong donor base and organizational infrastructure. It may also help that Gillespie lives in Northern Virginia, which he suggests gives him a nuanced understanding of how to run a campaign across a diverse state. It’s not enough simply to run against a bad economy. “Northern Virginia isn’t feeling the same kind of economic pain as in Southwest Virginia, but there is some economic anxiety” associated with the high cost of living there, he says.
Faced with a middling economy, Democrats have succeeded in driving up their margins in Northern Virginia in particular by casting Republicans like Mitt Romney and Ken Cuccinelli as too extreme on issues like abortion and birth control. The pro-life Gillespie claims he’s willing to fight back against “war on women” rhetoric. “You can’t let charges go unanswered,” he says. Having women like Barbara Comstock and Suzanne Scholte running down-ticket couldn’t hurt. Nor does the renewed sense among Republicans that after more than a decade of frustration in Northern Virginia, the party is beginning to adapt to reality.