Comstock, Wexton, Stewart Win Handily in Loudoun

The stage is set for a showdown in November.

Jennifer Wexton, a state senator and Leesburg resident, won a six-way race in Tuesday’s primary election to earn the party’s nomination. She’ll challenge Republican Congresswoman Barbara Comstock in the 10th Congressional District.

Wexton garnered 42 percent of the votes, nearly a 2-to-1 lead over her nearest contender, Alison K. Friedman. In the Republican primary, Comstock easily brushed off a challenge from the right by Shak Hill, holding onto 60 percent of the votes district-wide.

While Comstock garnered more primary votes in her two-way race than Wexton, Democratic primary turnout overall far outpaced Republican, drawing more than 7,000 more Democrats than Republicans to the polls.

In the Republican U.S. Senate primary, Prince William County Chairman Corey Stewart garnered 51 percent of the vote in Loudoun but only narrowly beat Del. Nick Freitas statewide with 45 percent of the vote. E.W. Jackson placed a distant third with 12 percent. Stewart, who narrowly lost out on the GOP’s gubernatorial nomination last year, will face incumbent Democrat Tim Kaine, the former Virginia governor who most recently his party’s vice presidential nominee, in November.

Wexton, the lone Loudouner in the crowded House race, said her landslide victory was “no surprise at all.”

“It’s very consistent with what we’ve been seeing the field, and what we‘ve been hearing as we’ve been out talking with voters in the district,” Wexton said.

And she said the victory indicates going into the contest for the 10th Congressional district, “people are engaged and excited, and they’re turning out. They’re going to keep working between now and November, and change is coming.”

Wexton, 50, has represented the 33rd District since 2014, when the seat was vacated by now-Attorney General Mark Herring. She is the past president of the Loudoun Bar Association and also served as an assistant commonwealth’s attorney from 2001 to 2005. She now works as a real estate attorney at Ekko Title.

Wexton was considered the front-runner in the primary; she was endorsed by Gov. Ralph Northam and other party leaders, including 17 state senators. After she announced her intentions to challenge Comstock a year ago, Wexton joined a chorus of Democrats criticizing the congresswoman for refusing to hold in-person town halls. While she accused the congresswoman of avoiding difficult questions from her constituents, Comstock said she prefers small-group meetings and tele-town halls that can reach thousands of people at once.

Comstock, a former Virginia delegate, has walked a political tightrope this term, between Trump supporters and the many moderates who make up her constituency. She called Trump to drop out of the race in 2016, and said she did not vote for him.

But the half dozen Democrats who lined up to challenge Comstock pointed to the congresswoman’s voting record that they argued backed the president’s agenda.

“I don’t think you can say you’re not with Donald Trump when you vote with him 97 percent of the time,” Wexton said at a candidates’ forum in February.

Comstock’s seat has been targeted by Democrats as one of the most vulnerable House seats in the country. It’s been a GOP stronghold for nearly 40 years, but Republicans’ winning margins are narrowing. For 34 years, the seat was held by Frank Wolf. He backed Comstock, who previously worked a senior aide for Wolf, as his successor. In 2016, 10th District voters cast a split ballot: they backed Democrat Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump by 10 percentage points, and supported Comstock for a second term with a 6 percentage point margin.

In a prepared statement, her campaign manager Susan Falconer thanked voters and volunteers for bringing “home this strong victory.” She said, “Congresswoman Comstock gets results for the constituents she serves. As one of the Democrat candidates noted, Barbara Comstock has beaten the DCCC picked candidates time and again.”

At the polls Tuesday, Democratic runner-up Friedman won 23 percent of votes. Lindsey Davis Stover came in third, with 16 percent, followed by Dan Helmer, with 12 percent. Paul Pelletier received 3.7 percent, followed by Julia Biggins with 2.8 percent.

This article was updated at 9:22 p.m.

dnadler@loudounnow.com
rgreene@loudounnow.com

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