I knocked on a door today, while out canvassing in the 10th CD. I heard some dogs barking, and after a minute, a woman opened the door a crack, holding back two dogs with her foot and looking annoyed. I introduced myself as a volunteer with the Jennifer Wexton campaign. She told me to wait a minute, and closed the door. When she came back, she was holding a mailer in her hand, and she asked me, “Have you seen this thing?” I hadn’t.
It was a mailer from another Democratic candidate. With side-by-side pictures of Senator Wexton and Republican Congresswoman Comstock, and wording that implied that they were basically similar candidates, on the basis of a single gun vote that Wexton took in 2016.
The mailer is ridiculous for so many reasons.
First, it’s easy to criticize the only candidate in the race who’s ever had to actually do the job of legislating. The other candidates have only their words about what they think they would do if they were legislators. Great, I’m sure they mean well. But legislating from the minority means either getting nothing at all accomplished for your constituents, or making compromises.
As a state senator, Wexton has voted against a dozen concealed carry bills, most of which passed without her vote and had to be vetoed. She’s voted against more than a dozen other bills that would have weakened our protections against gun violence. She’s consistently had an F-rating from the NRA. In the case of the vote in question, she wanted to take guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, and this was a chance to do that. You may or may not think the compromise on extending concealed carry reciprocity was worth it. That’s fine. But to equate Wexton to “Barbara Bumpstock,” who’s ranks 10th in Congress on the NRA donations list, who has an A-rating from the NRA, who opposes universal background checks, one handgun-a-month, banning bump stocks, closing the gun show loophole (every one of which Wexton not only supports but sponsored legislation on) is thoroughly ridiculous.
You may think I had to explain all this to the woman at the door today. You would be wrong. Because this woman was angry and disgusted at the negative tone of the mailer. This woman ranted to me about how we Democrats always do this to ourselves–we always find a way to take what should be our best chance at a win, and find a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
Because the truth is that we have six really great candidates vying for the chance to defeat Barbara Comstock in the Fall. Six candidates with an incredible diversity of life experiences, who would stand up for 10th district Virginians, who would actually hold town halls with their constituents, who would fight for women’s rights, immigrants’ rights, workers’ rights, and who would fight to reduce gun violence.
We don’t know who will win next Tuesday, but whoever it is, we want him or her to be in the strongest position to hit the ground running, ready to crush Barbara Comstock. And we want volunteers and Democratic voters who are excited and engaged and all-in, not frustrated and turned off by negative campaigning. And as for the woman I canvassed today, she was an undecided voter before that mailer. She’s now eliminated one from her list.