Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 13, 2016

The House GOP’s Next All-Star Female Contender?

Wolf is retiring. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

While some House GOP efforts to nominate top-notch female candidates have faltered this cycle, Republicans are poised to gain at least one all-star woman contender after a Saturday primary in Virginia.

Republicans expect state Del. Barbara Comstock to cruise to the nomination in this competitive district, located in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. A seasoned political operative, Comstock is one of a half dozen Republicans seeking to succeed retiring Rep. Frank R. Wolf, R-Va., in the 10th District.

Her nomination would boost Republicans, who recently watched two female candidates lose primaries in special elections in Florida. House Republicans have declared they want to increase the number of women in their caucus from the current level of 19.

If she gets through the primary on Saturday, Comstock is also the slight favorite in the general election in November. Republicans — and even some Democrats privately — say the political climate favoring the GOP in this district, which has a modest Republican lean, would give her an advantage this cycle.

Over the last few months, Comstock’s primary opponents — including state Del. Bob Marshall and retired naval Officer Howie Lind — have attacked her candidacy. But operatives from both sides of the aisle said Comstock’s organization, financial advantage and long endorsement list make her a near lock for the nomination in Saturday’s “firehouse primary.”

“It’s a hotly contested race, but beating Barbara will be very tough,” said former Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va.

A former Wolf aide and political consultant, Comstock raked in $761,000 leading up to the primary, dwarfing the five other candidates — all men — competing for the nomination.

Comstock has picked up support from across the party, including tea party groups such as the Citizen’s United Political Victory Fund, social conservatives like former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., and Capitol Hill Republicans like House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan and 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

But her candidacy has not come without some controversy. Tea party groups criticized her for not showing up to their events. And her campaign was forced to defend her vote for President Barack Obama in the 2008 primary in Virginia. Those groups hope that in a low-turnout primary, they can force an upset on Saturday.

Yet Republican operatives in the Old Dominion add that any tea party angst against Comstock’s candidacy will be divided among the other candidates — allowing her to glide to the nomination.

“The fact that she’s been a very strong fundraiser and has campaigned full time since Frank Wolf announced his retirement, the combination of those things puts her in a good position regardless,” said Jeff Ryer, a spokesman for Virginia’s state Senate Republican Caucus. “But multiple challengers puts her in an especially good position.”

In Virginia, the local party within a congressional district can choose the method and time for selecting their party’s nominee in an open-seat race. In the 10th District, Republicans selected a “firehouse primary” on Saturday, where the state party will open 10 polling locations throughout the district for voters from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.

If Comstock earns the party nomination on Saturday as expected, she will face Fairfax County Supervisor John Foust in November.

Democrats had planned to hold a convention on Saturday to select their nominee, but canceled it after Foust was the only Democrat to file for a bid.

Virginia’s 10th District is a top-target for Democrats in November. Romney carried it by a slim 1-point margin in 2012.

Virginia’s 10th District is rated Leans Republican by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.

  • blfdjlj

    So, the party of transvaginal ultrasounds and opposition to equal pay wants the female vote… spoiler alert – running a self-hating woman isn’t going to do the job.

  • silencedogoodreturns

    so…we should vote for her because she’s an insider political operative, and because she’s a ‘she?” No thanks.

  • Josh McCullough

    I doubt she is self-hating. That said, vote for Bill Redpath instead if you want a chance at true change!

  • docb

    She is the repubs Coakley [Mass] of this cycle…Lazy and entitled and not a female womens rights supporter! A gender turncoat stepford wife type!!

  • Cam79

    Interesting, this article is about Comstock but her photo isn’t shown. Bias much?

  • bishop24230

    What exactly are the female womens rights that you speak of?


    The Republican party has done a huge disservice to itself, for taking the position against the unemployment extension bill in the senate. With 2.6 Million angry potential voters having been affected by their refusal to pass the bill; the coming election will prove to be the Republican’s downfall. These families were left hung out to dry since late last December, and they will not forget the anguish that they have suffered because of it. Many of these families have become ruined financially, they have witnessed their credit being destroyed, they have faced evictions, home foreclosures, personal bankruptcy, and homelessness. How can they not forget which party was at fault for this? The Republicans have been using these families for political leverage, and bargaining chips, to further their party’s political agenda. They have shown their party’s true distain for the Average American family, and the suffering that these families have been going through being jobless without benefits to support their children. Senators like John Boehner are what makes the Republican party look bad in the people’s eyes. As a “FORMER” Republican of many years, I can honestly say that I will NEVER vote for another Republican again, and actively persuade my friends and family not to likewise. The Republican party will find itself VOTED OUT in the next election.


    The Republican party and their cronies have done themselves a great disservice by holding the extension bill hostage since late last December. While they continued delaying and rejecting each proposal submitted in the senate, millions of families have suffered adversely financially. Millions of families have faced eviction, home foreclosures, personal bankruptcy, and homelessness, while the republican senate played “party politics”, using these families as bargaining chips, for political leverage, to further their political agenda. These are people with children who are suffering for no fault of their own, because of lay offs and corporate downsizing. These are not the “lazy” unemployed workers depicted in the press by some republicans in the senate. It’s always easy to point blame at others for failures, rather to one’s own self for failed policies. Remember, it wasn’t the poor and unemployed that caused our economy “meltdown” several years ago. It was the greedy bankers that were responsible, and needed bailing out with taxpayer’s dollars. Which after the bail outs, gave each other huge bonuses. Now the republican party, with senators such as John Boehner, are holding the much needed help for these families as leverage for the passing of their OIL bill in the senate. Sadly, this is what it all comes down to. I hope the republicans are prepared for the tremendous backlash by these millions of families and their loved ones in the coming elections. They may not care at the moment, but I assure you that they will realized their mistake when the democrats win by another landslide. The republicans have proven themselves to represent only the interests of a chosen few in our great country

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