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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