AARON BENNETT: One of the most high-profile House races this cycle has been the battle for Virginia’s 10th, where state senator Jennifer Wexton is taking on swampy incumbent Barbara Comstock.
Wexton’s campaign is an uphill battle. She faces a dual threat in Comstock: both a prolific fundraiser and formidable campaigner. The district itself is typical Republican turf: majority white, upper-middle class, and voted Republican three of the last five presidential cycles. Comstock has actively sought to distance herself from the president on key issues, voting against repeal of the ACA and criticizing Trump’s derogatory comments against women.
But the landscape has shifted this year. Trump’s increasing unpopularity in the district, the rise of gun control as a key issue, and Wexton’s emergence as a rising star has put this “Romney Republican” district in play.
While Wexton had little control over those first two factors, her compelling candidacy has launched her race into the national spotlight. A former prosecutor and current State senator Wexton has lived, worked, and raised her kids in the district for years, lending her a credible, authentic voice and a polished record of delivering results for kids and families.
Her key selling point, though, is the fact that she’s a true do-er – a rarity in legislative politics. While in the minority in the state senate, she passed over 40 bills, all with bipartisan support. She truly cares about the positions she advocates for because she delivers: her life-saving bill to make the overdose-reversal drug naloxone more accessible which has saved over 130 lives, to her years-long fight to expand Medicaid in the state to 400,000 Virginians.
Yet, admirably, her track record of compromise and bipartisanship did not deter her from a bold, progressive platform. She is firmly against gun control, views healthcare as a human right, and intends to create a pathway to citizenship for the DREAMers if she were to win the seat in November.
Her ability to connect with the electorate is quite impressive. Her social media spreads like wildfire: capturing stories of her supporters, showcasing her endless stumping schedule, and throwing quippy jabs at her opponent. She has an army of foot soldiers at her disposal, deploying throughout the district to reach swing voters and mobilize her base. And that’s before you talk about the $5 million she’s raised through a boatload of small donations averaging $54 – including a generous contribution from the one and only James Comey (yes, that James Comey).
As one of the closest races of the cycle and a bellwether contest, a potential Wexton victory could be decisive for the Democrats’ dream of taking back the House. Beyond that, her track record, work ethic, and vision qualify her as a potential stellar congresswoman (and the Washington Post Editorial Board agrees).
She deserves the seat – and all eyes will be on her on November 6th.