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Not Showing Up: A Sure Way for Democrats to Lose Elections (McLean Day, 2017)

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by A. Siegel

The annual McLean Day festival draws a crowd, well over 10,000 each year, and today was no exception.

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While the ‘big’ political event is the McLean Community Center Board election (with the candidates and candidate tables a gauntlet along Lewinsville Park’s main entrance),  the signage today around the park resembled election day.

To Dump or Not to Dump Barbara

In a new addition, “Dump Comstock” signs were prominent and quite visible to Representative Barbara Comstock — whose hours schmoozing at McLean Day answered, for at least a little while, the question of “Where’s Comstock.” (Note that Barbara has time, with staff surrounding her, to ‘work the crowd’ but can’t seem to find her way to holding a townhall) Comstock had — like several past McLean Days — easily a dozen (if not double that) people out in “Comstock” t-shirts giving further visibility to her name.

Amid these tens of thousands of people, who was schmoozing the crowds and with a heavy presence?  Ed Gillespie, running for the Republican nomination for Governor, and Comstock had their time hanging out together.

VA governor hopeful Gillespie laughing it up w/Barbara Comstock

Although, this was the Gillespie-Comstock association that greeted people walking into McLean Day:

On the Democratic side, the supposed fervor of the 2017 primary was, well, pretty muted if not outright absent. Here is this observer’s impression of the situation:

  • Governor’s race — NADA
    • Zero Tom Perriello or Ralph Northam signs seen
    • No literature at Dranesville District Democratic Committee (DDDC) booth
    • No (seen around McLean Day nor according to discussions with people at DDDC booth) volunteers from either candidate’s campaigns.
  • Lt. Gov.’s race
    • [UPDATE] Candidate Susan Platt took time to engage with people at McLean Day and I/family members saw four Susan Platt volunteers(photo below) and there were at least four people Two Susan Platt volunteers seen (and, recounted by a family member, at least two others there)

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To be clear, at least several elected Democrats were there (John Foust, Kathleen Murphy — and likely >5 people wearing Murphy t-shirts), and activists worked the DDDC booth.

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There were  several (quite popular) Dump Comstock volunteers at the DDDC booth.

(Re ‘popular’, I put on a ‘Dump Comstock’ and had more than 20 people ask me where I got it as I walked around McLean Day.)

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As to the last, the 10th district is pretty much near the top of everyone’s list for the 2018 election. While an adept and skilled politician, Barbara Comstock’s extreme voting record is seriously at odds with a district (here is how Comstock voting aligns with Trump) that went for Clinton (and would likely go 10+% more for Hillary today in light of #TrumpRussia/etc). People are lining up to run against her, yet it was Comstock out in force today, NOT the effort to unseat her with someone more in line with the 10th District’s voters.

  • Potential D opponents to Rep Comstock mildly there
    • Dan Helmer was there (though didn’t see him over several hours) though no literature/material seen at DDDC booth.
    • Lindsey Davis Stover literature was at the DDDC booth (no indication that she was there).
      • NOTE / UPDATE: Should have worded (in this quick post) that parenthetical statement differently — mentally, I was thinking: “Lindsey was probably there but I saw no indication that she was there’ but certainly didn’t convey that correctly.  In fact, Lindsey was at McLean Day speaking with many she hopes become her constituents..
    • Jennifer Wexton was out in Loudoun County with no sign of Wexton literature or volunteers.
  • Bird-Dogging Comstock
    • No evidence of anyone following Comstock around McLean Day, videotaping her interactions.
    • No sign that activists were engaging Comstock directly
      • to, for example, ask:
        • “Why don’t you hold a town hall?”
        • “You are one of the most skilled investigators, with Justice-related experience, in the House. You were pugnacious in the Clinton investigation. Why do you seem to think that Congress has no role in investigating Donald Trump’s seemingly impeachable offenses?
        • “You hold yourself as someone promoting women. What would you say to my daughter who, quite literally, says she is afraid of Donald Trump?”
        • You sit on the House Science Committee, which is notable for its and its Chairman’s attacks on science and scientists. There are likely 1,000s of scientists in your district.  When will you stand up for science and earn their respect and appreciation? When will you stand up for serious climate action? When will you reject, rather than enable and support, your colleagues’ bullying of people who merit listening to? How do you explain your supporting people who likely couldn’t pass the seventh grade Virginia science SOL?
      • And, back to above bullet, where there any such interactions being videotaped?

“Being there” is a top-tier requirement for winning political campaigns … that too many Ds failed to meet when it came to McLean Day, 2017. As Woody Allen correctly put it, “80% of success is just showing up.”

  • How hard would it have been for the Northam and/or Perriello campaigns to get literature and some volunteers to McLean Day?
  • If Wexton sees herself as the D nominee for the 10th District, why no literature or volunteers (or her) at McLean Day?
  • Why no D ‘bird-dogging’ of Comstock?

NOTE/UPDATE: From comments, the ‘no ‘bird-dogging’ (at least partially) derives from impression when at McLean Day. Evidently, at least one person sought to record Comstock. Here is Cameron’s account.

Here’s what happened when I did try to follow Comstock and video her interactions: She immediately surrounded herself with staff and ran to pick up her granddaughter. After that her daughter came up to me and told me she didn’t want her daughter being recorded. There’s no way that sequencing was a coincidence.

Let’s be clear, Barbara Comstock is smart, hard-working, tenacious, an adept politician working hard to create an appearance of distance from Trump and ‘crazy GOP’ … and (with, okay, the exception of town halls) she is “just showing up.” Comstock won’t sleep walk through this election, which means the Democratic Party establishment and those seeking to replace her need to step up their game. If not, I worry that come election day 2018, VA-10 will remain far redder in Congress than its constituents truly desire.

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