“After decisively winning one of the most energetic primaries in the country, Jennifer Wexton is ready to turn Virginia’s 10th Congressional District blue,” said DCCC Chairman Ben Ray Luján. “Voters clearly value Wexton’s deep roots in the district and her strong record of service to her community, and know that she will take that experience and better represent their values in Washington. With the support of one of the most engaged and organized grassroots efforts in the country, Jennifer Wexton is in a strong position to flip this key district.”
To: Interested Parties
From: Jacob Peters, DCCC Regional Press Secretary
Date: June 12, 2018
RE: The Case Against Rep. Barbara Comstock
The election in Virginia’s Tenth Congressional District presents a clear choice between Rep. Barbara Comstock, a career partisan political operative who has failed to represent the majority of her constituents, and State Senator Jennifer Wexton, an accomplished leader and public servant who has forged compromise and gotten things done.
Comstock’s extreme partisan politics are extraordinarily out of step with her rapidly-changing Northern Virginia district that last November supported Governor Northam by 13 points. No matter what stunts she pulls, Comstock has been a rubber stamp for President Trump’s reckless agenda – voting with him 97% of the time and refusing to hold even a single town hall to explain herself. Comstock consistently puts partisan politics and her special interest donors ahead of her constituents. She even voted for the GOP tax scam, despite the fact that it gutted a key part of the Affordable Care Act and slashed deductions that widely benefited homeowners in her suburban district.
State Senator Jennifer Wexton understands the priorities and values of Northern Virginia, as a prosecutor, community leader, and working mom, and she has experience standing up and representing her community in Richmond. She has been a leader in the bipartisan fight to expand Medicaid to nearly 400,000 Virginia families – painting a stark contrast with Comstock’s numerous votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act and her responsibility for proposed premium increases resulting from the GOP Tax Scam.
Wexton’s commanding performance in the Democratic primary against a crowded, well-funded Democratic field demonstrates her strength and momentum heading into the general election. Rep. Barbara Comstock has been playing with house money for quite some time, but facing a matchup against a battle-tested, accomplished leader in Virginia State Senator Jennifer Wexton, Comstock’s luck is about to run out.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
“Wexton possesses an ideal resume for this contest. A former county prosecutor who served as a court-appointed attorney for abused and neglected children, Wexton is a proven vote-getter: she won a competitive 2014 special election for a state senate seat entirely within VA-10 and was reelected in 2015. And unlike Comstock (and Comstock’s last two Democratic opponents), Wexton hails from Loudoun County, the population center of the 10th CD.” [Cook Political Report, 4.21.17]
“[Jennifer Wexton] is the best qualified and also the one most likely to chip away at partisan gridlock in Washington.” [Washington Post, Editorial, 5.30.18]
“…some GOP strategists are skeptical this is a winnable race for the congresswoman (even with a perfect campaign) and wonder if the money would be better spread across multiple districts elsewhere.” [Inside Elections, 5.16.18]
Washington Post: Welcome to the D.C. suburbs, where the GOP tax plan could really hurt
Washington Post: Rep. Comstock: A case study in how Republicans lose the majority
Rep. Barbara Comstock: Partisan Operative in a Blue District
Earlier this year Senator Wexton criticized Comstock for her membership in an extreme group that was formed to discredit Anita Hill and has written articles entitled “Sexual Harassment Training Isn’t Just a Waste of Time: It’s Harmful,” and “Sometimes, women lie about rape.” Comstock refused to distance herself from the group, instead lashing out at her opponents and the media. That’s who Comstock is: a dyed in the wool conservative political operative with endless ties to establishment, partisan political groups. And that’s how she votes in Congress – siding with President Trump 97% of the time even though her constituents rejected the president’s agenda in 2016.
Tax Scam & Increased Healthcare Premiums
No single vote will define this contest as much as Comstock’s support for the GOP Tax Scam. Nearly half of Comstock’s constituents benefitted from the State and Local Deduction that was gutted as part of the tax bill – one of the highest rates of any congressional district in the country. Despite many of her Republican colleagues in similarly impacted districts jumping ship, Comstock voted for the bill and put her party allegiance and special interests donors ahead of her own constituents. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the bill also stripped a key provision from the Affordable Care Act. As a result, Comstock now bears responsibility for proposed premium hikes in Virginia ranging as high as sixty-four percent.
If the most basic responsibility of a member of Congress is to show up and be accountable to their constituents, Comstock gets a failing grade. She has not held a single public town hall during her entire tenure in office. Every single one of Comstock’s challengers – Democrats and Republicans – signed a pledge committing to hold town halls, Comstock abstained.
VA-10 has one of the most organized and active grassroots groups in the country, including one group called “Dump Comstock”. This group has been vocal and powerful in their efforts to hold Comstock accountable, and was originally born out of her lack of accessibility and accountability to voters in Northern Virginia.
THE PATH TO VICTORY
Jennifer Wexton is the strongest candidate Comstock has yet to face in this district, thanks to her long-term record of service to this community in both her legal and public service career. On top of that, the demographics and voting patterns of this district are moving the ground underneath Comstock.
Wexton has served this community as a county prosecutor, court appointed attorney for children, and State Senator, which can appeal to a broad swath of voters. She also has deep roots in the heart of the district, currently representing nearly a fifth of the district as a State Senator from Loudon County.
VA-10’s demographics alone make it a top-tier Democratic pick-up opportunity – it is heavily suburban and its residents are more affluent and more likely to have a college degree than any other district in Virginia. That largely explains the steady growth in Democratic support in VA-10. Clinton carried this district by ten points in 2016, gaining more than two points from Obama’s 2012 performance. A year later, Governor Ralph Northam won the district by twelve points, and Democrats flipped seven seats in the House of Delegates that overlap with the district.
One of the most distinct shifts in the district is in Loudon County – the population center of the district and Senator Wexton’s home turf. After supporting Governor McAullife by just four points in 2013, it gave Clinton a sixteen point advantage in 2016 and Northam a convincing twenty point advantage in 2017. That is a shocking shift for what was once a bellwether county, and Wexton is perfectly positioned to seize that momentum.
A poll conducted by the DCCC on March 21st, far before Wexton began running advertisements and introducing herself to voters outside of her State Senate district, showed Wexton opening with a 46-43 lead over Comstock in the initial named head-to-head. This shows Comstock in a significantly weaker starting position than she has been at this point in past election cycles.