We’re one week from election day here in Northern Virginia. All eyes are focused on the 10th District, where incumbent Barbara Comstock is facing yet another difficult challenge, just like she does every two years.
This race devolved a long time ago into an absurd caricature of what Congressional races should be all about. Gone is any pretense of policy or ideas – it’s all mudslinging, all the time, most of it focused on the President. Mention Barbara’s name on Twitter and you’ll soon be faced with a slew of Democratic sycophants/bots all trotting out claims that Comstock votes with Trump 12923982381232% of the time. Or you’ll hear claims that she’s refused to allow liberals to scream and throw things at her publicly (the old “townhall” claim) as if that’s some kind of moral failing. It’s nuts, but it’s true – just mentioning her name is like throwing chum into shark infested waters. And if it’s not the exhausting idiocy of social media, it’s the millions of dollars in outside spending that have poured into the district, with most of it trying to – shocking, I know – equate Barbara with Donald Trump. Don’t bother trying to watch a football game or Jeopardy – you’re going to see at least a half dozen ads calling Barbara every name in the book. It’s gotten to the point where my 8 year old son screams every time he sees a political ad – “Dad, they’re lying about Barbara Comstock again!”
I want to kiss the guy who invented the mute button.
Polling of the race has been all over the map, with most of it showing she’s the underdog in this race. That’s the funny thing, though – I can’t remember a time when Barbara has run for office when she wasn’t counted out or expected to lose.
Yet she keeps on winning. Over and over again.
Here are a few reasons, besides the fact that she’s the only thing that could get me out of retirement, even for a one off pre-election article. Let’s start off with the fact that she works harder than anybody, and has worked way harder than Jennifer Wexton.
I have worked with every member of Congress from Virginia (some more than others). I’ve worked with hundreds of members of Congress from across America over the last fifteen years I’ve spent on Capitol Hill and in the Bush Administration. I’ve worked with hundreds of state legislators, dozens of local officials from Mayors to Supervisors to Sheriffs. In my entire career, I have never met anybody who works as hard as Barbara Comstock.
I see her everywhere. I see her on Capitol Hill almost every week, sometimes every day. I see her in our district, at events large and small. I see her out fundraising for local officials, attending official events, walking in parades – she is literally everywhere in the 10th District. I have no idea how she does it, because she seems to be in more than one place at the same time sometimes. Anybody who knows her and has worked with her has gotten emails from her at all hours of the day and night. I don’t know when she sleeps, honestly.
Working hard is important, but that’s not all she brings to the table. She also cares about what she’s doing and wants to do it well.
If you want to see a record of accomplishment, take a look at Barbara’s list of passed legislation. She was easily the most effective freshman legislator when she was first elected to Congress, a rare freshman subcommittee Chair, and she has continued to perform since then, getting bill after bill passed by the House and eventually enacted into law. The Democrats like to criticize her for photos in the Oval Office with the President, but the reason she’s in those photos is she gets stuff done – she’s not like Dave Brat, desperately begging for photo ops over bills he had nothing to do with. She is easily one of the most effective members of Congress in Virginia, second only to Rob Wittman, who has been in Congress almost three times as long.
Just an example of Barbara working while Wexton is a no-show. When President Trump froze pay raises for federal employees – a major portion of the 10th District constituency – who was it that stood up to the President, worked hard and delivered for them? Who got the freeze reversed? It wasn’t Jennifer Wexton. She doesn’t even have a section on Federal employees on the issues page of her website. Who in this Administration is going to take a call from “the Resistance” to fix a problem like this one? Barbara delivered for her constituents here, while others just talked. That’s the reason why she’s got the best record on these issues in all of Virginia – even better than the Democrats who take federal employees for granted. That’s the difference between doing and talking.
I would also be remiss if I didn’t note how much she cares about the people she represents.
When my wife got cancer last year, we were deluged with cards, flowers, food, thoughts and prayers from around Virginia. Clearly, my wife is more popular than I am – if I’d have gotten cancer I’m sure all I’d have gotten is a blog post on the Bull Elephant saying I deserved it. I will never forget that the first bouquet of flowers we received came from Barbara Comstock. Over the next year, every time I saw her, the first thing she asked me was “how is KayAnn?” No matter what she was doing, how tough things were going, she cared enough to focus on my family.
The same thing happened the last time I ran for office. I asked Barbara for her endorsement, and it could have been the easiest thing in the world for her to say no. It was a contested primary, with two other Republicans in the race, and other folks who I had considered friends and who had supported me in the past – both activists and elected officials – declined to endorse because they didn’t want to be seen taking sides in a primary. Barbara didn’t care. She was willing to take a stand and support me, regardless of the impact on her in the district. That’s the kind of backbone she’s always had, and that’s why the folks claiming she won’t stand up to Trump have no idea what they’re talking about. She’s got a spine of steel, and has never backed down, regardless of how easy or convenient backing down could be.
She didn’t have to do any of that for me and my family, but she did. And we are not alone – I can give you the names of a dozen people who have had similar interactions with her and her team over the years.
I know this race has been tough on her, but I know she’s been through tough races before, and she has never let the prospect of a tough race get her down.
When I was running elections in Fairfax County, back in 2013, Barbara had one of her closest elections – she won her State House seat by a whopping 422 votes against yet another extremely well funded liberal woman. I recall sitting with her outside of where we were canvassing the votes, talking about how close her race was, as well as the others that I was dealing with at the time. At the time, it looked like her race was going to a recount, which would have been my third of the day. Despite all that, she was upbeat and optimistic, and I remember her telling me that regardless of what happened, she knew she’d done everything she could. She didn’t complain. She didn’t swear (I was doing the swearing), or ask why. She was a happy soldier – and I’ve always strived to emulate her in that regard, even though I know I often fall short.
That’s the Barbara Comstock that I know – strong, smart, optimistic, never backing away from a challenge, and a fierce competitor. And can say in all candor that she’s the best member of Congress who has ever represented me and Congress, the 10th District, Virginia and our entire country are better off for her being in Washington.
I don’t care about the polls. I don’t care about the money, or how many times Jennifer Wexton can claim Barbara is Donald Trump in a pantsuit. I don’t care about the trolls on Twitter, or the outside Democratic money flooding into the seat like the rain in my backyard this summer. I don’t care about the “blue wave” or any of that nonsense. In the end, this race will be close and I am confident that Barbara will do what she’s been doing her entire career, and snatching a win right out of the hands of the Democrats expectations. And if she doesn’t, we’ll all be worse off for it.
One of the greatest laments of the two party system is that when we head to the polls, we don’t always get to pick the best person for the job. Sometimes we don’t even get to pick a competent person for the job. Often, we’re either showing up to vote against someone or we’re showing up to choose the lesser of two evils. It’s very rare, these days, to be able to go to the polls and happily be able to cast your vote for a candidate who is not only the best candidate in the race, but also the best person for the job, and the kind of person you’d want your kid to look up to. I’m blessed to be able to do that this year.
I’m voting for Barbara Comstock on Tuesday.