RICHMOND — Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.) is not going to the Republican convention. She has not endorsed the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Donald Trump. And her outreach to minorities is anathema to Trump’s campaign.
Yet her Democratic challenger, LuAnn Bennett, on Monday rolled out an online ad tying the congresswoman’s policy positions to those of the celebrity billionaire.
The ad comes on the first day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, where the party is expected to name Trump as its presidential nominee.
“Barbara Comstock hopes you won’t notice, but she and Donald Trump are closer than you think” on equal pay, opposition to abortion, defunding Planned Parenthood and illegal immigration, the ad says.
The message in Virginia’s 10th District is part of national strategy by Democrats to paint down-ballot Republicans as Trump allies in hopes of turning red seats blue in November.
House Democrats earlier this month launched a seven-figure television and Web ad campaign linking GOP incumbents to Trump.
The ads have been playing in Comstock’s Northern Virginia district as well as nine others across the country and will continue through the convention, which takes place Monday through Thursday.
Despite Comstock’s efforts to distance herself from Trump, the push demonstrates the challenge she and other Republicans face as the national party endorses the most unconventional presidential nominee in recent memory.
Because of Trump’s candidacy, the nonpartisan Cook Political Report changed its prediction of Northern Virginia race from “likely Republican” to “lean Republican,” signaling a more competitive race.
Ken Nunnenkamp, the political director of Comstock’s campaign, said Bennett would be a rubber stamp for Hillary Clinton.
“Congresswoman Barbara Comstock has made it clear that she will fight for her constituents and the priorities of the 10th District that she has delivered on for seven years as a delegate and now as the Congresswoman,” Nunnenkamp wrote in a statement. “Barbara’s agenda for strengthening our national security and safety, growing our economy and our jobs, and improving our quality of life is a 10th District agenda.”
Last week, Comstock nabbed the endorsement of the Fairfax County Professional Firefighters and Paramedics IAFF Local 2068. The group supported her predecessor, former Republican congressman Frank R. Wolf, but did not support Comstock during her successful 2014 campaign.