Barbara Comstock wins Virginia GOP firehouse primary
McLEAN, Va. (AP) - Republicans nominated Barbara Comstock on Saturday to succeed longtime congressman Frank Wolf in Virginia's 10th Congressional District, turning away a slate of contenders who said they'd be a more conservative choice.
Comstock, a former Wolf staffer who represents McLean in the House of Delegates, will face Democrat John Foust in a November general election expected to draw national attention.
Comstock had been the GOP front-runner since announcing her candidacy, winning support from most of the GOP establishment.
But she had to face a field of five challengers, including fellow Delegate Bob Marshall, who has shown an ability to upend establishment candidates with a strong grass-roots following drawn to his strong anti-abortion views. In 2008, he nearly defeated former Gov. Jim Gilmore at a 2008 convention to choose a U.S. Senate nominee.
Unofficial results from the party gave Comstock 54 percent of the vote. Marshall was second with 28 percent of the vote. Howie Lind garnered 8 percent, Stephen Hollingshead 6 percent and Rob Wasinger and Mark Savitt each had 2 percent.
The party held a so-called "firehouse primary" with polling sites scattered Saturday throughout the district, which stretches from McLean to Winchester. More than 13,000 people cast ballots.
Wolf has held the seat since 1981, and the district has only a very slight GOP tilt. Mitt Romney carried the district by only a one-point margin 2012.
The district is also home to some of Virginia's wealthiest neighborhoods and is expected to be one of the most expensive races in the nation.
Comstock was attacked by her primary opponents as insufficiently conservative. In particular, they questioned why she chose in 2008 to cast a ballot in the Democratic presidential primary rather than the GOP primary.
Comstock said she voted in the Democratic primary to weaken the Democrats, casting her ballot for Barack Obama because she believed him to be the weaker candidate compared to Hillary Clinton.
In one interview she said her vote was part of Rush Limbaugh's "Operation Chaos" to throw the Democratic primary into disarray, though Limbaugh had not even announced that plan at the time of the Virginia primary, and there was still a valid GOP contest for Virginia voters, with John McCain and Mike Huckabee both running active campaigns.
Democrats seized on the issue as well, mocking Comstock by promising not to try and create havoc by casting strategic ballots in Saturday's firehouse primary.
In a statement issued after she claimed victory, Comstock said, "Now is the time for all Republicans to unite and pool our resources together to defend this seat from Nancy Pelosi's hand-picked candidate," referring to Foust.
The Democrat issued a statement congratulating Comstock but challenging her votes in the House of Delegates against a bipartisan transportation package last year that raised some taxes, and painting her as one of the most conservative delegates in Richmond.
Also on Saturday, Micah Edmond, a former congressional staffer and an African-American who converted to Judaism, won the GOP nomination in Virginia's 8th Congressional District, which includes the inner suburbs of Arlington and Alexandria.
Edmond narrowly defeated another former congressional staffer, Dennis Bartow, at a convention vote in Arlington. Edmond will be an underdog in the fall in the heavily Democratic district. Democrats will choose their nominee from a field of nearly a dozen candidates at a June primary. The incumbent, Democrat Jim Moran, opted not to seek another term.