Year in Review: Comstock’s win led area’s state political news

The campaign to replace long-time U.S. Rep Frank Wolf, R-Vienna, in the 10th District dominated political news in the area for much of 2014.

Del. Barbara Comstock, R-McLean, emerged with a decisive victory over Democrat John Foust, a member of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors who is also from McLean.

Comstock trounced Foust with 56 percent of the vote, a far bigger margin than many political activists and strategists from both political parties had expected when the race began in the spring.

Wolf’s endorsement of Comstock, whose political experience includes several years on his staff, figured prominently in her campaign advertising. Wolf was also regularly at her side during campaign appearances.

Foust stumbled when he criticized Comstock for never holding a “real” job, a comment that she turned against him in advertisements accusing him of sexism.

Comstock was also helped by a strong Republican tide that devastated the ranks of Democrats at nearly every level of government through much of the nation.

The GOP trend was obvious in the U.S. Senate race between incumbent Democrat Mark Warner and Republican Ed Gillespie, who has worked as a campaign strategist, national party official and lobbyist.

Political handicappers expected Warner to win easily, but election night proved to be a taut affair. Warner trailed late into the night but last minute returns from heavily Democratic Fairfax County saved him.

U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Roanoke, cruised to an easy victory in the 6th District after health problems sidelined his Democratic challenger in February, and the party could find no replacement.

Goodlatte rolled up 74 percent of the vote against a Libertarian candidate and a member of the Independent Green Party.

Goodlatte’s victory ensured his continued chairmanship of the House Judiciary Committee, which gives him a leading role in deciding the fate of all immigration reform proposals in Congress.

Democratic Attorney General Mark Herring visited Winchester early in the year for a policy-oriented meeting with law enforcement officials about their priorities and how his office could help them.

The heroin epidemic was the No. 1 topic of discussion, but Superintendent James F. Whitley of the Northwest Virginia Regional Adult Detention Center made a determined plea for more housing and treatment options for the mentally ill.

Whitley warned that his facility and other jails are being turned into housing of last resort for inmates in need of psychiatric care.

Whitley told Herring that the detention center’s population of 600 inmates included 80 or 90 with identifiable mental illnesses, making it “the largest mental health facility in Virginia.”

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com