Shak Hill’s Staff Pledges Money to Democrats if Comstock Wins

It’s no secret among Virginia political insiders that Shak Hill’s campaign for Congress is struggling. Hobbled by poor fundraising, low name ID, and personal scandal, Hill has failed to gain traction and enters the final few weeks largely unknown to primary voters.

Floundering campaigns tip their hand by ignoring inconvenient facts and deflecting back on to their opponents. You can tell when they reach full meltdown just as the staff lose their cool.

That frustration even led Shak Hill’s finance director Steven Thomas to pledge money to help Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats defeat Comstock, if she wins the June 12th primary. As finance director, Thomas leads fundraising efforts for Shak’s campaign.

“If she beats Shak, I will raise money to make sure she does not win in November,” wrote Thomas, while arguing online with supporters of Comstock.

In politics, they say a gaffe is when someone accidentally tells the truth.

Here, Hill’s staffer accidentally told the truth about the campaign’s purpose: flipping the seat Democratic, even though observers say he has no credible path to victory in November.

In 2016, Republicans pulled together as a team and successfully defended this battleground seat which routinely ranks among the nation’s most competitive. Volunteers put their differences aside and poured in time and effort winning votes for Comstock.

By successfully defending that seat, Comstock has proven an invaluable member of the Republican House majority. Her vote helped pass the Republican tax cuts, cutting taxes by more than $6000 for families in the district. She’s worked to advance conservative priorities, like co-sponsoring national concealed carry reciprocity and advancing legislation speeding the removal of violent MS-13 gang members who are here illegally.

She’s also used the seat to be an effective legislator for independents, winning key reforms for Metro intended to fix the ailing system’s problems and unclog the region’s roads. She’s also led the fight against opioid abuse and human trafficking. Comstock took action to clean up sexual harassment in Congress and prohibit politicians from settling cases with taxpayer money.

Even Comstock’s detractors acknowledge her strong work ethic, which keeps her active and accessible at community events every single week. Comstock has earned a reputation of showing up, getting things done, and being an effective legislator whose priorities are in-tune with her district.

For a district held in careful balance, and with an electorate different from the Sixth or Ninth, Hill’s campaign demands a distinct lack of balance. On false and negative literature, he faults Comstock for not shutting the government down and sending tens of thousands of her constituents home without pay while politicians squabble on Capitol Hill. He attacks the NRA-endorsed candidate with talking points the NRA-ILA says are bogus. He stretches the truth like taffy melting under the summer sun.

By volunteering to do Nancy Pelosi’s work against the Republican nominee in the general, Thomas is saying to Republicans that unity does not matter. No credible observer thinks Hill has a path to victory in November, even if he had Comstock’s war chest and all her supporters. He’s just not a good fit for the district.

However, through actions like this, Hill’s team says they don’t value support from Comstock backers if he won his long-shot primary bid. How can a candidate who faces a nearly impossible climb even with party unity expect to win if Republicans remain divided by his campaign’s rhetoric? That evidence is consistent with a campaign being run out of spite rather than run to win. Burning the district appears to be the point.

According to FEC records, Hill raised only $178,809 cumulatively and has a paltry $63,401 on hand for the campaign’s final stretch. Hill’s campaign can’t afford to communicate with voters and get its message out. Polling shows a severe name ID deficit, even among the very conservative voters most likely to favor him.

Meanwhile, Comstock has raised nearly $3 million and has most of it in the bank. Primary voters will know who she is and what she has accomplished. Her well-staffed campaign is speaking with thousands of voters at doors every week and will be able to turn its supporters out to vote, especially as the Senate primary remains underfunded and isn’t driving voters to the polls.

From on-ground reports, Shak’s mail universe is small and lacks repetition. His radio buys and digital advertising are light in weight and spotty in reach. His campaign recently suspended its door knocking program.

But, despite the long odds, Team Hill pledges the fight against Comstock will continue after November.

Thomas’s statement might cause the campaign some trouble among Fairfax Republicans, especially in the wake of a contentious fight to elect a new chairman at the party’s convention in March.

His opponents will note he attended that convention, and as a condition of participation, pledged in writing to support all Republican nominees – including Comstock. Going back on that pledge opens him up to action under (I)(A)(2) of the State Party Plan.

With Hill’s campaign continuing to lose traction, it’s unlikely that his fortunes will change before the June primary. That unfortunately foreshadows even louder outbursts aimed at undermining Republican chances in November – though it would be hard for them to be more clear in their intentions than by pledging money in support of the efforts by Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats to win the seat.