Democrat Jennifer Wexton, a state senator and former prosecutor, has defeated incumbent Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.) in one of the easiest pick-up opportunities for Democrats in the 2018 midterm elections.
Comstock, who was seeking her third term in office, was essentially living on borrowed time after the 2016 election. Hillary Clinton won this suburban Northern Virginia district by 10 points in 2016, while Comstock won it by six points. Virginia’s 10th Congressional District was one of five districts that voted for Clinton by 10 or more points and elected a Republican to Congress in 2016.
District voters may have split their tickets in 2016, but not this time around. The district voted heavily for Wexton and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Clinton’s vice presidential nominee in 2016 who this year ran against the wildly unpopular neo-Confederate Republican Corey Stewart.
Trump and congressional Republicans did little to help Comstock with an aggressive campaign against federal government workers and constant threats to shut down the government. The district she represents is filled with government workers who commute to work in Washington, D.C., and other northern Virginia counties. She opposed the president’s policies to freeze federal worker pay and cut retirement benefits, but her affiliation with the Republican Party makes her another vote to keep his party in control of the House.
The 10th District is also full of the college-educated white voters ― specifically, college-educated white women ― who have turned hard against Trump and the Republicans over a range of issues, including the president’s outspoken racism and misogyny, as well as tax cuts that mostly benefited corporations and the extremely rich while doing little for even the relatively wealthy residents of suburban Virginia.
Comstock’s reputation as a strong gun rights advocate had also made her a key target of the gun reform movement, with advocacy groups pouring nearly $1 million into the race, according to tracking by The Trace, an outlet funded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety organization. The National Rifle Association meanwhile endorsed Comstock once again, having supported her in previous cycles. Although the NRA touted her “A” rating, it spent just over $12,000 in the election.
This story has been updated with details about Comstock and gun rights.