Barbara Comstock. (Photo by J. Lawler Duggan/For The Washington Post) (J. Lawler Duggan/For The Washington Post)

Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.) is endorsing Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) in the 2016 presidential race.

“Marco Rubio represents a strong, new generation of leadership,” Comstock said in a statement Wednesday. She added that he “understands firsthand the struggles facing middle-class families” as well as “the complex national security challenges we face.”

While Comstock is only a freshman, her sprawling district in the Washington exurbs will be critical for Republicans next year. The party sees Virginia as essential to victory . Comstock is the only Republican lawmaker in the area.

“With Barbara's support, we can win in a key swing state like Virginia,” Rubio said in a statement.

Rubio held a fundraiser for Comstock during her congressional bid last year, her first. Rubio has been courting Romney associates; Comstock was a policy adviser to the former Massachusetts governor in 2008 and co-chaired his Virginia campaign in 2012.

Rubio’s former chief of staff, Cesar Conda, also advised Romney in 2008 and co-chaired the anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List with Comstock that year.

Last week, Rubio rolled out 60 GOP endorsements in Virginia, including his campaign co-chairs: State Sen. Bryce Reeves, House Majority Leader Kirk Cox and Del. Kathy Byron.