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Wexton beats Comstock as Dems flip suburban Va. district

November 7, 2018

CHANTILLY, Va. (AP) — Democrat Jennifer Wexton defeated two-term Republican incumbent Barbara Comstock on Tuesday in a northern Virginia congressional race that drew national attention.

The race was long seen as a prime opportunity for Democrats to pick up one of the 23 seats they need to gain to take control of the House of Representatives.

The 10th District stretches from wealthy precincts in McLean inside the Capital Beltway west through suburban Loudoun County and out to rural parts of the state including Winchester.

The district has a high number of federal workers and is one of the wealthiest districts in the country. It also has large numbers of independent, highly educated female voters who have been particularly opposed to President Donald Trump.

Wexton, a state senator and former prosecutor, sought to link Comstock’s voting record to Trump.

Wexton won a crowded six-way primary earlier this year for the right to take on Comstock. Wexton was outspent in the primary, but was the only elected official running in the primary and received the endorsements of Gov. Ralph Northam and other Democratic leaders.

After winning the primary, her donations picked up considerably and she was able to match Comstock’s prodigious fundraising ability in a district that requires millions of dollars to compete with TV ads in the Washington, D.C., media market.

Wexton is the first Democrat to win the seat since 1978.

“We sent a message that we want a better nation; we demand a better nation, a nation where we treat each other with dignity and respect,” Wexton said to hundreds of cheering supporters in Chantilly after Comstock conceded defeat.

Before entering politics, Wexton worked in Loudoun County as an assistant commonwealth’s attorney, where she served as a lead prosecutor in the high-profile 2001 murder case of Clara Jane Schwartz, a James Madison University student who was convicted of enlisting her friends to murder her father, Robert Schwartz, by manipulating her friends through a fantasy role-playing game.

Marie Ridder, 93, of McLean, said Tuesday after she cast her ballot that she had been waiting two years for the opportunity to vote, calling Trump’s election “one of the most depressing times I’ve ever had.”

The longtime Democrat said her vote was not only for Wexton but also against Trump and Comstock.

Comstock, who conducted opposition research on Bill Clinton as a House staffer in the 1990s and served as a spokeswoman for the Justice Department during the Bush administration, had a reputation for good constituent service and reaching out to the district’s varied ethnic groups. But she was criticized for failing to hold town hall meetings, and frequently ignored reporters’ requests for interviews.

“Her locking herself away, I think that’s what hurt her,” said Del. Kathleen Murphy, a Democrat who narrowly lost a House of Delegates race to Comstock in 2013, as she greeted voters outside a polling place at Langley High School. “People want to see their representatives face to face, and that’s not what she’s done.”

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