Why Barbara Comstock lost 38 Years of Republican Control

Stratis Bohle

With the reported Blue Wave coming in on a whimper on Tuesday the 6th of November, the Virginia 10th District Congressional race was the first to fall. The Republican and Democratic candidates were decided early last June with incumbent Barbara Comstock winning the Republican Primary, and Jennifer Wexton winning the Democratic Primary.

The votes have Jennifer Wexton winning the election with 56.10% of the vote share. With the fact, this is the first midterm after the inauguration of a new President where his party, the Republicans, won that election in the Congress and Senate. It is no surprise Comstock lost, but no one expected this badly. One potential reason for Comstock’s massive loss is most likely her refusal to deal with Town Halls and failing address the questions of her own constituents. Another possible reason may be the demographic change in the 10th District.

Comstock’s refusal to engage with her constituents was most exemplified in late January pf 2017. At this time, Comstock held 2 “mobile office hours” in District 10 grocery stores where she didn’t appear in person to answer questions. The office later came out and said the invites to the office hours shouldn’t have said she was there, but it certainly left a bad taste in the mouths of snubbed voters. As Fairfax resident James McCeney wrote on Facebook“THIS IS SHAMEFUL” and “If you’re in the 10th district, call her office and let her know that we won’t be tolerating her not doing her job anymore.” This was also right in the middle of President Trump’s first Travel Ban fiasco, where Comstock was stuck in the middle being in a leaning blue district with a Republican as its representative. She did host a telephone town hall but since the questions were screened before being asked, and the event was on short notice, most constituent questions weren’t able to be answered.

The second reason, that may explain Comstock’s loss, is the demographic change. Since the creation of district 10 in 1952, it has been in Republican control for 60 of the 66 years. Also, according to the 2010 census, Northern Virginia has accounted for 60% of the states population growth and had the lowest ratios of people over the age of 65. This allows for the numerous wins Democrats have had over the past 2 years in the region including, but not limited to, voting for Clinton in 2016 after voting for Romney in 2012, electing the first openly transgender state Delegate Danica Roem in Manassas, and defeating Comstock with a vote percentage not seen since Frank Wolf won re-election in 2012. And as of the 13th of November, the district will receive even more of a population shift as Amazon announced Crystal City to be the second Amazon headquarters, which will be shared with New York making the district swing completely blue.

With regards to the Republican party itself hurting Comstock in the election, there is no question about whether it happened. Republican Corey Stewart, with his White Supremacy ties and strong connection to President Trump, as the only Republican candidate on a statewide ticket helped to cause Democrats or Independents, who may have voted for Republicans in the past, come out and support incumbent Senator Kaine. This also happened with moderate Republicans with Corey Stewart losing by 20%. Comstock’s ties with Trump also couldn’t have helped with the district being adamantly against him. If perhaps there was a more moderate Republican running for the Senate seat, then perhaps the Republicans would have kept District 8. District 10 was long gone, but perhaps it would have been closer.

We will see the full effects of the Blue Wave and if it can sustain itself into next years Virginia general election for state government offices. Only then will it be apparent if Virginia will turn Blue like New York.