Comstock prevails to win seat in Congress

By Joe Beck

Del. Barbara Comstock, R-McLean, got the promotion she wanted to the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday night.

Comstock defeated Democrat John Foust in an expensive, intense, high profile campaign to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Vienna, in the 10th District.

Comstock led Foust 57 percent to 39 percent with 84 percent of precincts counted.

Both parties and their allies poured money into the race waged in one of the nation’s priciest TV advertising markets.

Both parties rushed in after Wolf announced his retirement plans in December after 34 years in Congress. Wolf won easily against a series of Democratic challengers over the decades, but the district has been much more closely contested in recent elections for president, governor and attorney general.

The 10th District runs from McLean along the Potomac River through Fairfax, Loudoun, Clarke and Frederick counties to the West Virginia border. It also includes parts of Prince William County.

Shaun Daniels, Foust’s campaign manager, said his candidate “would have made a great congressman but obviously the voters chose Barbara Comstock tonight, and we respect the voters.”

No one from Comstock’s campaign was available for comment late Tuesday.

Democrats hoped that Wolf’s departure would give them a shot at one of the few House seats that political strategists deemed competitive at the beginning of the 2014 mid-term campaigns.

Republicans were equally determined to prove they could win an open seat in a district where demographic trends in heavily populated Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties have been running against them.

They settled on Comstock, who emerged as the nominee in an unusual process that combined elements of a primary and a caucus. The so-called “firehouse primary” was designed to head off a debilitating clash between conservatives who consider themselves pragmatists and more ideological Tea Party members.

Foust, a member of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, attacked Comstock for what he described as an extremist record in the General Assembly, especially on abortion and other issues affecting women’s reproductive health.

He also warned that Comstock, who was attacked by Republican rivals during the nominating process as too moderate, would line up with the tea party and contribute to gridlock in Congress.

Comstock fought back by appearing frequently with the popular Wolf at her side. She also hit Foust with advertisements calling attention to comments he made about her not having held a meaningful job during a long career in law, politics and government. Her supporters accused Foust of sexism.

Daniels said many people were likely to consider the charges of sexism to have been the decisive factor in the election.

“Clearly that will be the item most people will pick up,” Daniels said. “I don’t think it’s necessarily correct. Different voters make up their minds for different reasons. I just think it comes down to whose voters turned out and whose voters are motivated.”

Campaign fundraising for both candidates was well over $2 million by Oct. 15, an indication of the importance national party officials assigned to the race.

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