Comstock boasts of similarities to Wolf in 10th race

Posted: April 17, 2014

The Winchester Star

Barbara Comstock

This is the first of six profiles on candidates seeking the Republican nomination in the 10th District U.S. congressional race. The profiles will be presented in alphabetical order by the candidates’ last names.

WINCHESTER — If you’re a fan of Frank Wolf’s service and in the U.S. House of Representatives, then state Del. Barbara Comstock would like your vote.

Comstock, R-McLean, is one of six candidates vying for the Republican nomination in the April 26 party canvass, otherwise known as a firehouse primary.

The 10th District, which stretches from McLean to the West Virginia border, had 727,366 residents in 2012.

In an interview on Tuesday, the current 34th District state delegate touted her work with Wolf, and said she’d legislate in a similar fashion.

“My commitment is to the district, and to really be a hands-on congresswoman and work the way Congressman Wolf always has with everybody to improve our area,” Comstock said.

Wolf, a Republican, announced in December he wouldn’t be seeking an 18th term in office. Instead, he plans to focus on fighting for religious and human rights.

Also seeking the 10th District Republican nod are Loudoun County conservative businessman Stephen Hollingshead; conservative activist and retired Navy officer Howie Lind; 13th District state Del. Bob Marshall of Manassas; Clear Brook businessman and housing industry advocate Marc Savitt and Capitol Hill staff member Rob Wasinger.

The nominee will face Democrat John Foust, a member of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, in the Nov. 4 general election.

Comstock, 54, is serving her third two-year term as a member of the House of Delegates.

She said her affiliation with Wolf began in 1984 when she volunteered for his campaign.

The mother of three was looking to return to work in 1990, and took a job on Wolf’s staff.

Her first position was on children, youth and family issues, and she later was the senior staffer working on appropriations.

From 1995-2000, Comstock, a lawyer, worked on the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee, for which she was the chief counsel.

She went on to work for President George W. Bush’s campaign and then became the director of the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of Public Affairs.

About a decade ago, Comstock went into private practice, and in 2007, she started a public and government affairs firm.

When she first ran for delegate, government-run health care, commonly dubbed “Obamacare,” was an issue, she said.

“It’s only become an increasing problem,” she said. “I do think we should repeal and replace it.”

Comstock noted that President Barack Obama has made 38 exemptions to the Affordable Care Act.

“It’s just being rejected every day by more and more people,” she said.

There are some reforms Comstock would like to see if the ACA is repealed.

“First of all, we need to have insurance that’s portable [that] you can take from job to job, you can buy insurance across state lines,” she said. “Also, dealing with pre-existing conditions is a very important thing.”

Under the ACA, a person can’t be denied coverage, charged more, or denied treatment based on health status. Another positive of ACA reform is allowing children to stay on their parents’ policies until age 26.

According to Comstock, however, Obamacare has created a “huge bureaucracy,” and “this 29-hour phenomenon” in which employers are knocking employees’ hours down to 29 a week to avoid the requirement to provide them with health insurance, Comstock said.

“Now, they’ve got 29 hours and more expensive insurance, and the IRS is going to come after you and fine you if you don’t pay for it,” she said. “Even with the subsidies, people are finding these plans just aren’t affordable.”

The economy and jobs are also a focus of Comstock’s.

“Northern Virginia is the most vibrant economy,” she said, mentioning technology and defense jobs.

In the General Assembly, she’s “focused on making jobs No. 1,” passing telework bills, she said.

“We have to have a strong and prosperous American economy, and we also have to have a [strong] foreign policy in order to have a strong and prosperous America,” she said.

What Comstock perceives as a weak Obama in the face of Iran and Russian President Vladimir Putin “creates a dangerous world for everybody, not just the United States.”

“We need to have a strong America that reinvigorates our defense industry,” she said. “Virginia has always led the way on defense. We have to very much make that a top priority again.”

One way to make America more secure is through a domestic energy program, Comstock said. She supports the Keystone XL Pipeline, a 1,179-mile crude oil pipeline that would stretch from Alberta to Steele City, Neb.

Virginia is waiting for Congress to pass legislation that would allow offshore energy exploration, Comstock said.

“...[H]aving affordable energy makes the whole economy hum, but it also is a way to strengthen us abroad and not project this weakness that Obama has done,” she said. “Obama is the second coming of [President] Jimmy Carter.”

Regarding immigration, current laws need to be enforced, Comstock said.

“Then, the laws that are on the books need to favor and reward people who come here legally,” she said. “Right now, it’s kind of hard to come here legally.”

Comstock said she favors offering more high-tech visas to those who get high-level educations in the U.S. so they can stay here.

The delegate says she’s made frequent visits to the Winchester area as part of her campaign, and was out here when she worked for Wolf.

She said she’s talked to area leaders about issues in the region, and said she’s aware of the importance of congressional support in fighting problems such as heroin and human trafficking, something Wolf has always done.

“I’ve worked with him on a lot of these issues for years,” Comstock said.

Also like Wolf, Comstock said, she’d look to local leaders for guidance, and keep a district office open in Winchester.

“Many of those [members of Wolf’s] staff who would love to stay on, I would like to keep them,” she said. “It’s a real privilege to run for this seat that my former boss held. I truly appreciate that he has big shoes to fill. He has been my role model and having worked with him in 30 years in elections, in his office, and now as a delegate, I really do want to carry on that strong tradition that he has of fighting for our conservative values, providing excellent constituent service and always being on the ground listening to everybody.”

— Contact Sally Voth at svoth@winchesterstar.com