Now she’s truly between a rock and a hard place. In the 2017 gubernatorial race, Republican nominee Ed Gillespie lost the 10th District by a 55.6 to 43.3 percent margin with a “Trump-lite” campaign. Rather than learn from that, Comstock’s first ad against her moderate Democratic opponent, state Sen. Jennifer Wexton, is about — you guessed it — MS-13, exactly like Gillespie tried against now-Gov. Ralph Northam.
Comstock has never been an anti-immigrant hardliner (she supported Sen. Marco Rubio in 2016 for president) and now she is reduced, or rather reduced herself, to playing the same race/immigration card Gillespie and pro-Confederate statue, race-baiting Corey Stewart, the GOP’s Senate nominee, fancy. MS-13 is not, I repeat not, a major issue in her district. It’s a hot button Trumpian issue to rile up the base.
It’s sad, really. Comstock was never a nutty conservative, a race-baiter or an extremist on immigration. By running the ad, she has signaled that the only way she thinks she can get elected is by ginning up the far-right GOP base. It didn’t work for Gillespie, and it’s not likely to work any better for her. To the contrary, it might remind voters that she is a lot closer to Trump these days than the beloved Wolf. If she wants to play the ideological game, Wexton will likely be happy to engage, taking Comstock to task for her stance on guns, for example, where Comstock is wildly out of sync with the suburban parents she desperately needs to win. (She has an A rating from the National Rifle Association and, as of Oct. 2017, had received more than $130,000 from the NRA.)
Who knows if Comstock would have survived the primary running without cozying up to the Trump base? That she would not try and instead would rather peddle the Gillespie-Stewart-Trump line is both politically unwise and deeply troubling. There really is no GOP party in Virginia; it’s Trump or nothing.