I’ve been thinking for a long time that the extremely politically ambitious Barbara Comstock (R-10th, VA) has basically zero interest in staying in the U.S. House of Representatives for very long. Instead, my view has long been that the U.S. House was simply another step in Comstock’s plan to keep moving up the ladder – to the U.S. Senate (it’s becomes increasingly certain that there will be a special election for U.S. Senate next year in Virginia for Tim Kaine’s seat, after he’s elected VP). and beyond (VP or even President in 2020 or 2024?).
The problem for Comstock is that sometimes the “best-laid plans of mice and men” – and of extremely ambitious career politicians like Comstock – don’t quite work out. Thus, over the past couple days, top national political analysts like Larry Sabato, Charlie Cook and other have moved Comstock’s current election against Democrat LuAnn Bennett into “Toss Up” territory, meaning that it’s now quite possible Comstock could actually lose her seat in Congress on November 8. Which would be a very good thing for the 10th CD, but also for the state and country more broadly.
Anyway, I was curious what others thought, so I checked with a half dozen knowledgeable, savvy, Northern Virginia Democratic politico “insiders.” Here are some of their comments, along with a few of my own.
- Comstock “may run for the U.S. Senate even if she loses” her current race for the House, almost certainly (90%-100%) if she wins.
- Comstock “can’t hold VA-10 in 2020, so might as well go up or out.”
- Comstock “has no interest in staying in the House; she’s VERY ambitious, no way she’s staying there.”
- We need to “stop her now,” as “we have her wobbling.” Time to “knock her out” politically before she gets any further.
- “I think her [political] ambition is boundless. Everything she does is calculated. Barbara is all about Barbara.”
- “I think she is right wing at her core, but more dangerous than Trump because she manages to suppress [her far-right political ideology] when it suits her needs. She’s the superego to Trump’s id.”
- “She has trained herself to come across as non-threatening,” but that’s just an act. And that’s a very dangerous combination.
- “She’s not serious about representing the 10th CD, she’s just an ambitious career politician using this as a stepping stone to bigger/better things. She has no interest in you, the 10th CD voter, per se.“
- The question, now that Comstock’s fighting for her political life, is “whether she got overconfident? Was she looking too far ahead” (at her next race, for U.S. Senate, in 2017) and lost sight of the current race?
Also, check out the following from the DCCC back in April 2016:
Turns out that Comstock’s team has started buying up domain names apparently in anticipation of her upcoming run for Senate. Comstock is now the proud owner of comstockforsenate.com, comstockforsenate.org,barbaracomstockforsenate.com, and barbaracomstockforsenate.org.
“Career politician and former lobbyist Barbara Comstock hasn’t even made it through her first reelection and she’s already looking for her next job,” said Jermaine House, spokesman for the DCCC. “It’s amazing that it took Comstock more than 20 months to return money from Donald Trump, but she’s already planning years ahead for her run for Senate.”
Names Registered By Arena Communications, Comstock’s Digital Consultants.Domain names appear to have been registered to Arena Communications, a firm who has done work for Comstock. Comstock’s campaign has paid Arena Online more than $93,000.
And see this Washington Post article from May:
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee unearthed the domain names weeks ago. But they drew more attention recently, when Comstock’s Democratic rival held them up as proof that Comstock has no long-term interest in her House job.
“She’s already bought those domain names,” Democrat LuAnn Bennett told a meeting of the Clarke County Democratic Committee, the Winchester Star reported this week. “That doesn’t show a whole lot of commitment to the 10th District, if you ask me.”
Comstock’s spokesman, Jeff Marschner, declined to comment on the domain names, saying only that she is focused on opioid legislation and other matters important to her district.
Then there’s this from the Virginia Democrats in late June:
- Congresswoman Comstock recently purchased a Senate campaign domain, calling into question her commitment to Virginia’s 10th District.
Finally, a brief review of Comstock’s history as a career politician gives you an idea of her trajectory – and her goals:
1) Senior aide to Rep. Frank Wolf (1991-1995).
2) “Chief investigative counsel and senior counsel for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Government Reform from 1995 to 1999, working as one of Washington’s most prominent anti-Clinton opposition researchers.”
3) Opposition researcher on the 2000 George W. Bush for President campaign.
4) Served as Director of Public Affairs at the Justice Department under far-right-wing Attorney General John Ashcroft (2002-2003).
5) Helped defend the infamous former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (he was eventually convicted) and former Dick Cheney advisor “Scooter” Libby (2005-2007; Libby was convicted on four of five counts in March 2007).
6) Ran for – and was elected to – the Virginia House of Delegates (2009).
7) “Comstock’s public relations firm consulted for the Workforce Fairness Institute (WFI), a conservative group advocating on a variety of federal labor policy issues, from 2008 through 2012.”
8) Ran for reelection to the Virginia House of Delegates in 2011 and 2013.
9) Announced her run for the seat of retiring Rep. Frank Wolf on January 7, 2014; defeated Democrat John Foust for the seat.
10) Currently running for reelection to her seat in the U.S. House, while clearly looking forward to running for U.S. Senate next year and getting the heck outta there ASAP.
In short, since 1991 (just a few years after receiving her J.S. from Georgetown University), Comstock’s been 100% focused on advancing herself – and defending her Republican pals while attacking Democrats like the Clintons – politically. Does this sound like someone at all interested in staying in a House seat that’s only getting more “blue” each election cycle, and which Comstock almost certainly can’t hold beyond 2020? Short answer: no, of course not.
Which is why, if you’re a 10th CD voter, you really should think about whether you want someone who, most likely, would turn around and immediately start running for a promotion on November 9th? Or, would you rather have a successful, hard-working businesswoman – a “jobs creator,” as Republicans like to say – who will stick around and serve the district for years to come? If the latter, then make sure you vote for LuAnn Bennett on November 8th (or earlier, if you are voting absentee)!
P.S. Almost forgot to mention that, as of 9/30, Comstock had $1.9 million “cash on hand.” Why would she be hoarding her money in a tight House race unless she is saving it for a 2017 run for U.S. Senate? Unless she’s wildly overconfident or something…