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The VA-10th Primary

By Greg L | 25 April 2014 | Virginia Politics, US Congress | 20 Comments

Tomorrow Republicans (and doubtless a few Democrats) will go to polling locations across the 10th Congressional District to select a Republican nominee for Congress to replace Frank Wolf.  By all appearances this is going to be a not terribly competitive matchup between the establishment’s well-funded candidate Barbara Comstock and the typically under-funded Conservative Bob Marshall.

Wolf has been a pretty decent Congressman, who I’d rate somewhere in the “B” range.  On a lot of issues he was bringing his “A” game, but on some notable occasions he fell considerably short of that mark.  This election was an opportunity to improve on that, but odds are we won’t.

Since Comstock has diligently avoided any and all campaign events connected with the Tea Party, voiced some rather disturbing support for Medicare expansion on her website and racked up a few unnerving positions on her record as a delegate there’s no reason to expect her performance as a Congressman would ever be any better than Wolf’s.  How much worse it could be is anyone’s guess, but we’re in a pretty good position to find out.  Having secured a bunch of impressive endorsements before any other candidates announced and lapping the field a few times with funding, odds are she’s going to win this primary pretty handily.  The level of support she’s getting from conservative activists, who I think in other circumstances might know better than this, shows me what a missed opportunity this primary campaign was.

Quite a few others in this race would certainly have raised the performance of Wolf’s seat to an “A.”  Bob Marshall has a long and impeccable conservative record.  Hollingshead and Lind clearly have the principles behind them to develop and support consistently conservative policies.  Any of these would have been a step up, and with a record and extensive experience Bob Marshall has established himself as the most viable of the bunch.  Your vote for Marshall tomorrow might not put him over the top, but it just might remind folks that the conservatives are still out there and ignoring them isn’t great strategy.

The political cycle right now is pretty tough for conservatives, following the defeat of the conservative ticket last election cycle.  We won the nomination contests only to fail to campaign effectively during the general and lost pretty badly.  The establishment (which played a part in that debacle) has gleefully latched on to that, fueling the mantra that conservatives can’t win with their money advantage and the primary electorate has largely swallowed it.  Republicans are so concerned about the “war on women” talking point dregs they’re desperate to find a candidate who can inoculate them against those attacks and somehow think that Democrats can’t attack Comstock during a general election campaign.  Well, we’ll see about that.

Comstock’s chances during a general election are pretty good though, so it’s not reaching too far to envision a Congressman Comstock starting a long career in Congress in a position where it’s nearly impossible to mount a primary when we see those bad votes start to rack up.  At best it’s going to be like having a female version of Frank Wolf in Congress all over again.  That’s not a horrible thing, but you’d think that in a district like this we could aim a little higher. 

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  1. Stephen Spiker said on 26 Apr 2014 at 5:12 pm:
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    Congrats to Barbara Comstock on her overwhelming victory!

    Now hopefully Republicans like Greg will lead the charge to undo the damage done by those who tried to convince conservative voters that Comstock is a pro-choice liberal Democrat. Working the polls today, I heard those lies repeated by too many voters.

  2. Greg L said on 26 Apr 2014 at 5:19 pm:
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    No, I think we’re just going to watch in the hope we are proven wrong. That would after all be the best outcome, even if it’s not a terribly likely one.

    I’m not interested in undoing damage that a candidate inflicts upon themselves. That’s their job, not mine.

  3. Winston said on 27 Apr 2014 at 6:56 am:
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    Quit equating “conservative” with abortion and gay marriage and just maybe the message would sell to the majority of the voters. I am fiscally conservative and pro-defense, yet don’t give a rat’s ass about supporting candidates who want to legislate who gets married and who can get an abortion. Maybe if they were so interested in protecting marriage they would support legislation making getting a divorce more difficult and weren’t in favor of abortion only when they don’t like the method of conception…..

  4. Anonymous said on 27 Apr 2014 at 12:43 pm:
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    I am quite astounded that anyone professing to be “conservative” can blindly parrot leftists talking points like this. If you remove any and all political philosophy from conservatism it probably isn’t all that hard to veer off into the weeds like this, but I can’t imagine anyone coming to an alignment with conservative political philosophy without the intellectual underpinnings that make such positions utterly revolting.

    The left wants to force the rest of us to accept a change in the structure of society, but frame that effort as “conservatives want to legislate who gets married.” What absolute hogwash. Changing the nature of the family in such a way that we will inevitably be stamping polygamy, pederasty, homosexuality, and bestiality with government approval has historically been proven to be fearfully self-destructive to a society. There are two stable legislative approaches to family: one man and one woman, or anything and everything. There is no legally stable middle ground. Conservatives, or should I say educated conservatives, intuitively understand this.

    As far as “legislating who can get an abortion,” that makes about as much sense to an educated conservative as the statement “legislating which parents can perform infanticide.” If the preamble to the Declaration of Independence has any meaning whatsoever, and actual science inform us as to the definition of what constitutes human life, the notion of murdering human beings inside the womb is about as morally and intellectually appealing as exterminating other arbitrary class of human beings based on what religion they follow or what the color of their skin is.

    The conservative political movement will not long endure if people treat it like a buffet table of policy prescriptions instead of an intellectually unified school of philosophical thought. If you think being a conservative is appealing, you become responsible for understanding what it is.

  5. Taxed enough said on 27 Apr 2014 at 5:29 pm:
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    I agree with Winston and that thought will win elections.

    Long insulting diatribes won’t.

  6. Winston said on 27 Apr 2014 at 5:38 pm:
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    Anonymous @ 12:43 I take it that you aren’t one of the “educated” conservatives but you are why the GOP is having trouble gettng any traction. Maybe you don’t understand as much as you think you do. Barry Goldwater would laugh at you.

  7. Greg L said on 27 Apr 2014 at 8:21 pm:
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    So Winston, in your opinion to what degree should conservatives compromise on principle in order to gain a potential political advantage? Should conservatives abandon the idea that some policies are “core,” or even “sacred” and only promote those that more politically moderate voters consider broadly acceptable?

  8. Winston said on 28 Apr 2014 at 5:58 am:
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    No, you should keep trying to redefine conservative, pander to the minority and keep blaming everyone else’s stupidity for the loss (sarcasm off). My opinion is that the GOP keeps alienating the majority of the voters about things that should not be core. Defense should be “core”. Personal freedoms should be “core”. The economy should be “core”. Get off the “moral” issues and take care of them at home. IMO they tend to go everywhere with you when it is done that way (I had prayer in school!!!). Letting politicians legislate “moral issues” sounds kind of like Sharia law.

  9. J Doe said on 28 Apr 2014 at 9:15 pm:
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    So sayeth the almighty Winston, so it shall be.


  10. Winston said on 29 Apr 2014 at 5:26 am:
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    J Duh, I wish that was the case. Then maybe this country could start moving in a better direction. You guys keep on losing elections on the same issues. Just quit crying so much becasue you can’t figure out why it is happening.

  11. Winston said on 29 Apr 2014 at 6:13 pm:
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    I agree with this guy 100%. Unfortunately guns aren’t the only issue where people make ASSumptions


  12. Citizen-Veteran said on 30 Apr 2014 at 10:07 am:
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    Lots of passionate and foolish noise in the comments, unfortunately, for this article. Bottom line is that Greg’s article and insights are very accurate. His assessment of the 10th CD Firehouse Primary is excellent - and so is his prognosis for a Comstock victory. Apparently, the 10th CD is moving towards a Tom Davis-like moderate long-term candidate in the House. However, look for remarkably non-conservative detours with Ms. Comstock. There are political topics she avoids. She was supported by the liberals in her district because she provided them something. Will Ms. Comstock become one of the new conservative voices in the US House of Representatives? Not likely. She will stick to the “safe” issues with an eye on her liberal constituents and be remarkably silent on the conservative issues . . the Constitutional issues. Still, all Republicans must support Barbara Comstock in the general election. All Republicans need to hold Ms. Comstock accountable once in office - and never forget this responsibility.

  13. Jeff Hunter said on 30 Apr 2014 at 3:47 pm:
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    Winston said on 28 Apr 2014 at 5:58 am: “…Personal freedoms should be “core”….Get off the “moral” issues and take care of them at home…”

    Unfortunately, we’re no longer able to keep those statements apart anymore. Ask the Oregon baker who simply wanted to exercise their personal freedom to not be involved in a gay wedding, or the photographer from New Mexico who attempted to exercise their personal freedom to not be involved in a gay wedding, if they think it’s possible to fight for personal freedoms by leaving the moral issues at home. How about the Hobby Lobby owners who simply want to sell craft supplies and provide health care insurance to their employees without violating their deeply held belief that they shouldn’t materially cooperate with abortifacient birth control?

    You can’t say that “personal freedoms should be core” and then turn around and tell us to “keep our moral issues at home”. That’s exactly what the Progressives are trying to do with their not so subtle attempt to turn “freedom of religion” into “freedom to worship”. The former is what I do in the public square, the latter is what I do on Sunday in my place of worship.

  14. Anonymous said on 30 Apr 2014 at 5:20 pm:
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    You just.don’t.get.it

  15. Jeff Hunter said on 1 May 2014 at 10:18 am:
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    With apologies to Niemöller . . .

    First they came for the pro-lifers, and I did not speak out - because I didn’t be part of the “War on Women”.

    Then they came for the Christians, and I did not speak out - because I don’t like listening to their preaching.

    Then they came for the capitalists, and I did not speak out - because I’m not in the 1%.

    Then they came for the 2nd Amendment supporters, and I did not speak out - because I can’t see why anyone needs to own a gun.

    Then they came for me - because there was no one left to defend the innocent, fund the rebellion, and fight for my rights.

  16. Dan said on 1 May 2014 at 1:12 pm:
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    @ Taxed Enough says “I agree with Winston and that thought will win elections.” So what?….instead of losing the country in X years we lose it in X minus a few years? Small comfort!

    In my lifetime (with one brief exception) I have only experienced a leftward swing as our country moves further and further away from what made it great. The only thing that ever changed was the rate, with Republicans occasionally offering token resistance to the inevitable trend. How quickly we moved leftward might vary by issue, but it eventually always did one baby step (or giant leap) at a time.Individuals could try to fight this trend, such as WFB “standing athwart history yelling ‘Stop!’”. Yet we still moved left.

    And then there was Reagan. Although he could not permanently reverse our course, he did for a time. And in my judgement, what he did was to remind our country of its founding principles and defended them without apology. I think he is called the Great Communicator because he restored the country’s understanding and belief in them. Sure he changed peoples minds on issues…but that was a byproduct of what he really did.

    We are losing the country, and not because we are losing on issues. It is because peoples belief in our founding principles are crumbling. And the only way to reverse course is to restore those them. Call it political philosophy or intellectual underpinnings (as Anonymous @12:43 does) or core principles, but that is where the battle is that could save the country. Otherwise we lose issue by issue, drip by drip, until there is nothing to argue about.

    This idea of “pick and choose” issue based conservatism is absurd to begin with. Conservatism (in this country) is about conserving the immutable beliefs our country was founded on. It is a very leftist idea to diminish and discredit conservatives as idealogues. Of course they would do that. They want people to decide things issue by issue based on whatever sounds good to them. Hell! That is the entire Progressive approach…if it sounds good, why not? Without a political philosophy your are without any strong intellectual defense to this. And we end up losing issue by issue over time as people are eventually convinced that some stupid idea ’sounds good’. (Arrordable Health Care??…Hey! That sure sounds good!) If there is some conservative out there (Winston & Taxed Enough) not concerned about our core conservative principles, then they are just managing the countries decline. Count me out!

    Count me in with Anonymous @ 12:43 and his concern about Winston’s lack of political philosophy. I wish sometimes people would just shut up about their issues. I simply don’t care until after I understand about your principles. And if you are one of those people that don’t have any or can’t articulate them, then I guess you can keep pumping that dead break as the country drives off the cliff.

    I truly don’t want to be critical of people that are probably a natural political ally of mine….as it sounds like Winston/Taxed Enough would be. And I certainly should make allowances that some people are just intellectually not interested in arguing aout dry political philosophy. I get it. But diminishing ‘educated’ conservatives who are concerned about this as Winston does @5:38 is also not going to “get traction” with the electorate. That pathway just leads to inevitable losses issue by issue.

    Sorry to be melodramatic. But this is simply where things stand. We are well past the point where we conservatives have the power at the ballot box to preserve our country…or even our local government. Our only chance now is in restoring peoples belief in our countries values. And that does not come from not taliking about our principles.

    Winston @5:43 says “Barry Goldwater would laugh at you”. Sorry…I don’t know what you are talking about. Sitting on my shelf is a well leafed through copy of “The Conscience of a Conservative” written by Barry Goldwater in 1960. And it is chock-a-block full of political philosophy and discussions of our core principles. So I am left to think that (to borrow your own phrase), “maybe you don’t know as much as you think you do”.

  17. Dan said on 1 May 2014 at 1:54 pm:
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    I just realized Winston probably used “Barry Goldwater would laugh at you” to reference the fact that Goldwater did not support using the government for enforcing “morals’ on the American people. My mistake. That is true. He was very libertarian that way.

    I originally interpreted his comment as trying to discredit those of us concerned with the core principles of conservatism rather than as just a “buffet table of policy prescriptions”. Winston never actually argues that. Sorry!

    So I was fighting a strawman! If Barry-O can do it…why not me,eh?

    But still, I hope it was at least a good blog entry on why conservatives should defend our core principles and will lose if we only argue things issue by issue.

  18. Winston said on 4 May 2014 at 5:47 am:
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    We can take what you guys write and use it as the textbook example of why we are losing the country, There are a lot of sheeples out there and unfortunately too many of them are “conservatives”. It keeps coming back to TWO issues in which neither IMO should be “core” to any political platform.

    Jeff, it is easier to affect change and “defend the innocent” from a position of power. They aren’t “coming for” you. With your willingness to legislate morals you are going after them. Except you are losing.

    Dan, you aren’t arguing “political philosophy” when you start claiming religious based morals as “core” unless oyu are arguing for a theocracy (say Sharia). When they become core you’ve reached the edge of the platform in the minds of enough people to cause you lose your majority.

    Maybe I have more of a Libertarian streak in me than you guys that hide under the cover of “conservative”. I don’t want ANYONE legislating a moral issue for me and on that my opinion will NEVER change. I am sure the founding fathers felt the same way.

    It has become obvious to me that many of people seem to like being the whining little underdog. It’s easier to go “oh woah is me, we are doomed” rather get out there and actually win.

  19. Greg L said on 4 May 2014 at 2:58 pm:
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    I haven’t encountered many people “hiding under the cover of conservatism.” At least until moderates drive them back into some closet somewhere, they’re all pretty much “out” at this point while they argue that the preamble to the Declaration of Independence succinctly describes the truly exceptional American experiment with what a Republic should be and that “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” applies to all people regardless of whether or not they’re temporarily occupying a womb.

  20. Stephen Spiker said on 4 May 2014 at 11:31 pm:
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    Winston, I am as much a libertarian as you. But the difference between a libertarian and an anarchist is we still believe that some laws are necessary. Specifically, the laws protecting people from harming others. Abortion harms others, by preventing that life from behind born. You blithely dismissing it as a “moral issue” misses the point, and misses its complete compatibility with libertarian ideology.

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