U.S. Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.) kicked off her reelection bid Wednesday night amid questions over whether she should switch her support from struggling presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) to front-runner Donald J. Trump.
Speaking to about 200 supporters gathered inside a Loudoun County volunteer fire station, Comstock ticked off what she considered her first-term successes and reiterated her support for Rubio — who outperformed Trump in Northern Virginia on Super Tuesday, even though Trump won the state.
“As you look at the issues and problems we have today, there’s not a one of them that we can’t fix with the people . . . and the diverse community that we have here in the 10th District,” Comstock told the cheering crowd.
Several audience members wondered whether Trump’s candidacy could somehow hurt Comstock if he becomes the Republican nominee.
As the incumbent in what is likely to be an aggressive congressional race, Comstock has the advantage in her evenly split Northern Virginia district over Democrat LuAnn Bennett.
Bennett, a real estate executive and an ex-wife of former congressman Jim Moran (D-Va,) has tried to sway moderate voters to her side by linking Comstock to Trump. Her campaign has highlighted a comment Comstock made in 2014 that likened illegal immigrants to “FedEx packages” and characterizes Comstock’s opposition to abortion as on par to demeaning comments Trump has made about women.
“There are really interesting comparisons there when you look at their positions and records, and we think it’s important that voters in the 10th District are aware of those,” said Bennett’s campaign spokesman Adam Zuckerman.
But Comstock could also benefit from a groundswell of new voters who might come out to help Trump defeat the Democratic nominee in November.
“That probably would be Barbara Comstock’s biggest concern: You don’t get the enthusiasm; you don’t get the volunteers,”said Ron Wright, a Herndon business owner who is vice chairman for finance for the Fairfax County Republican Committee.
After her campaign event, Comstock played down the role any Republican presidential nominee might have in her reelection bid, arguing that her accomplishments, including work on legislation to combat human trafficking and to create jobs for war veterans, will carry the day for her in November. She declined to say whether she would support Trump or any other nominee if Rubio fails.
“I’d like to have Marco Rubio at the top of the ticket, for the country, for a lot of reasons,” she said. “I’m focusing on helping Marco Rubio.”