Comstock, Bennett face off in 10th

LuAnn Bennett

TYSONS CORNER – U.S. Rep. Barbara Comstock, R-McLean, touted her legislative record and Democratic challenger LuAnn Bennett criticized it on a wide range of issues affecting the 10th District in their second and final debate Wednesday.

The debate was organized and conducted by the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce.

Both candidates portrayed themselves as committed to bipartisan cooperation while casting their opponent as a captive of party orthodoxy and rigid positions on the issues.

Bennett, who has spent much of the campaign attacking Comstock by linking her to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, said little about him until the very end of the debate. Comstock recently ended a long silence on whether she would vote for Trump by declaring she would not in light of lewd remarks he made about women.

The candidates disparaged each other’s records on equal pay for women with Bennett promising to fight Trump, if he is elected, on women’s health issues and paycheck fairness.

Barbara Comstock

“The congresswoman voted against paycheck fairness twice, and the 10th District has the highest pay gap between men and women of all 11 congressional districts in Virginia,” Bennett said.

Comstock replied that Bennett was contributing to the pay gap with her campaign hiring and pay schedule.

“There is only person on this stage who has implemented equal pay,” Comstock said. “I not only pay women more than I pay men in my office. … I have women in senior positions. My opponent does not, and she pays women, from what I can tell on the campaign, less than men.”

In her opening remarks, Comstock attacked Bennett, also of McLean, for not living in the district until recently, although Bennett said she and her late husband moved in 35 years ago and started a real estate development company headquartered in Washington, D.C.

Comstock recited a list of issues, including what she described as “landmark” opioid legislation, tax relief and an end to defense spending cuts imposed by budget maneuvers, as examples of her effectiveness in representing the district.

“Where has my opponent been on these issues?” Comstock asked. “Not working for Virginia, and for the past decade, not even living in the 10th District.”

Bennett accused Comstock of being a member of a “do-nothing” Congress, a record that she said also extended to her earlier career in the House of Delegates where she voted against a bipartisan transportation bill that was a top legislative priority of former Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell.

Bennett also attacked Comstock and other Republicans in Congress for failing to adequately fund anti-heroin legislation after taking credit for passing it. President Obama asked for $1 billion, but Congress voted $37 million, Bennett said.

“This is the kind of legislating we need to stop doing,” Bennett said. “We need to, when we pass bills, when these crises are happening, we need to address them quickly, and we need get them the adequate funding they need to really solve the problem.”

Comstock said she helped win federal designation for Frederick County as a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area. The classification is expected to bring additional federal money to help law enforcement in intelligence gathering and bolster treatment and rehabilitation programs.

“I’m going to fight for more money,” Comstock said, adding that she expects in the lame duck session of Congress after the election that “we’re going to get more money then.”

The 10th District western border begins at the West Virginia and Maryland state lines in Frederick County, extends south roughly to Wardensville and then east through Clarke and Loudoun counties and parts of Prince William and Fairfax counties to the Potomac River.

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