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- Virginia State Sen. Jennifer Wexton is trying to unseat incumbent Republican Rep. Barbara Comstock in Virginia’s 10th Congressional District.
- The district, which is just outside of Washington, DC, has long been poised to turn blue, despite remaining Republican for decades with Comstock weathering tough races in the past.
STERLING, Virginia – Republicans have maintained their hold on the immediate suburbs of Washington, D.C. in Virginia for decades.
Despite the GOP lead dwindling every election cycle, Republican Rep. Barbara Comstock has held on to Virginia’s 10th Congressional District. That is likely to come to an end on November 6.
Every major poll of the district shows Democratic challenger and Virginia State Sen. Jennifer Wexton holding a sizable lead over Comstock. A significant factor – the mood of the district’s large portion of federal employees.
The Trump administration has not received stellar approvals among government workers during its first two years. While polling has been sporadic, it has also not been kind to President Donald Trump. Early into his administration, a majority of federal employees disapproved of the job he was doing.
Wexton told Business Insider an interview at a canvass launch on Saturday that “federal workers have been under attack from this administration and congressional Republicans like Barbara Comstock have not been standing up for them.”
“One of the things that is also helping is that in the post-Trump era, I think a lot of people realized just how fragile our democracy is and they realize that it’s important that they get out and vote and make their voices known,” she added. “People recognize that they can’t just sit on the sidelines and assume everything’s going to be OK.”
Wexton has courted high-profile backers from past government service to support her campaign, like former FBI Director James Comey, who donated the legal maximum to her political action committee in his first ever financial boost to a Democrat.
And Madeleine Albright, the first female secretary of state, attended Wexton’s canvassing event on Saturday, telling the crowd of campaign staffers and volunteers, “it’s Article One time” in a nod to Democrats hoping to enact significant oversight of the Trump administration.
Albright, who lives in Virginia’s 10th District, acknowledged the area’s shifting demographics and increasingly left-leaning voter turnout.
“The kinds of things that Congresswoman Wexton will represent is really very important in terms of an incredible county that has really changed in so many ways since I first came here in 1972,” she said. “A one that is really vibrant and interested and really moving ahead on all the important issues.”
“The only regret that I’ve had in my life is that I never ran for office,” Albright added. “And so I’m really honored to be here for somebody who is and should be running for office.”
Republicans are still fighting to keep hold of the district
The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) is still pouring cash into the district in hopes of saving Comstock’s seat, shelling out nearly $5 million in ad buys.
Comstock has hammered Wexton for what she says will raise taxes, contribute to a culture of “resistance,” and make House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi the next speaker of the House.
But Wexton was not as concrete about potential support for Pelosi, telling Business Insider she would make an assessment based on who decides to run for party leader if Democrats retake the House.
“I don’t even know who’s running, so I look forward to somebody presenting a pitch to me for a change about what their vision is for the Democratic Party and for the caucus going forward,” she said. “I think that we do need fresh eyes and leadership that is going to unite and inspire the caucus going forward. So I look forward to seeing who – I look forward to number one, taking the majority – and number two, finding out who those voices are and hearing from them about why they have the best vision moving forward.”
Still, the heavy lifting, which has included visits to the district from House Speaker Paul Ryan, has largely failed to bolster Comstock.
Comstock, who won her district despite it also going for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016, dismissed concerns that federal employees do not like Trump and those closely associated with his agenda, telling Fox News in an interview earlier this month that “the federal employees I’ve worked with for decades and you have national security folks, FBI, the CIA is in my district. We have a lot of support there.”
She also dismissed polling showing her trailing Wexton, telling Fox’s Ed Henry, “Those poll numbers you showed are not accurate. Because we’ve been in the field, we are narrowly ahead. I have always over performed our polls – always over-performed in these races – and we are out fighting hard.”
“Two years ago right now, of course everybody thought it was going to be Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine,” she added. “And they were saying I was going to lose by five points. I won by six.”