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Sharp elbows in GOP primaries

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- There's been no free path to potential victory for Barbara Comstock as she tries to win the Republican primary contest next Saturday for the 10th Congressional District in northern Virginia.

The front-runner has the blessing of most Republican elders and has already raised an impressive $760,000 in her bid to replace retiring incumbent Frank Wolf.

But she's also encountered sharp elbows from some tea party rivals for not being sufficiently conservative. Republican leaders have tried to tamp down these attacks, but with little success.

"They feel she's the anointed one and no one should stand in her way," said Howie Lind, a former Navy commander and one of Comstock's opponents. Lind has blasted Comstock for voting for President Barack Obama in the 2008 Democratic primary, as well as for supposedly supporting expanding Medicaid eligibility, which Comstock has voted against multiple times.

Prince William County Delegate Bob Marshall, an outspoken social conservative also in the race, has questioned Comstock's qualifications and dismissed party leadership's support of her candidacy.

"They want a woman to counter this, `we're against women thing,'" said Marshall.

Comstock campaign manager Susan Falconer said the attacks are in response to Comstock's leads in recent polls.

"It's been sad to see that the other campaigns have responded with increasingly negative and more desperate attacks," said Falconer.

The tenor of the primary contest stands in contrast to the unified front presented by state Republican lawmakers in blocking Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe's efforts to expand Medicaid eligibility. But it also underscores the continuing intra-party tensions between the establishment wing of the party and its more conservative factions.

Last year, Republicans were split over a transportation spending package that included tax increases, but this year almost all Republicans have toed the party line in opposing Medicaid expansion. Some of the tea party and conservative groups that were critical of House Speaker William J. Howell last year over the transportation bill are now praising his leadership.

"There's nothing like playing defense to unify a party," said Stephen Farnsworth, political science professor at the University of Mary Washington. "But when you're competing for a nomination you're no longer playing defense."

There are efforts to upset establishment favorites in other primaries, including U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's re-election bid and former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie's race for the U.S. Senate.

Like many political observers, Farnsworth says tea party challengers aren't likely to win their races but can still score a victory in pushing the Republican party rightward.

"The odds are going to favor the establishment candidate in all of these races, but if you're a tea party activist you're never going to find a better opportunity to be heard," he said.

The 10th District sprawls from tony Beltway suburbs through Loudoun and parts of Prince William counties out to the Shenandoah Valley. Republicans are having a so-called firehouse primary in which polling will take place at a handful of polling places around the district. The winner will face Democratic Fairfax County Supervisor John Foust in the general election.

Other Republicans for the nomination are Stephen Hollingshead, an official in former President George W. Bush's administration; Marc Savitt, president of the National Association of Independent Housing Professionals; and Rob Wasinger, a former congressional aide.

Last week, Howell and several other House Republicans sent Lind a letter asking him to withdraw radio ads accusing Comstock of supporting Medicaid expansion, saying they were untrue and "crosses the line."

But Lind said he stands by his ads and isn't concerned with upsetting party leaders.

"A war is raging," Lind said. "People are not happy with the party."

An earlier version of this story stated that Del. Barbara Comstock has been endorsed by U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf. That was incorrect. Wolf has not endorsed a candidate in the primary.


“you must be hard pressed to explain Wolf commanding 65%+ of the vote in every election cycle in what should be a Democrat District by your numbers.” FredSanford’s other post

Actual recent #s

2004   Wolf 64   Socas 36
2006   Wolf 57   Feder 41   Wood 1   Nigam 1
2008   Wolf 59   Feder 39   Nigam 2
2010   Wolf 63   Barnett 35 Redpath 2
2012   Wolf 58   Cabral 39   Chisholm 3

See any 65?s Used 2 vote Wolf until he veered > & > rt.

Chris N. - You put too much stock in “Obamacare” costing democrats. The only people who care and rant about the ACA are hardcore republicans anyway not the middle of the road voters a candidate has to win over to take an election. Warner remains highly popular and last election only a tiny tiny fraction of returning politicians of either party did not win reelection

Fedup - You are reading comments from the same group of people who are constantly telling themselves the GOP has a leg up around here.  Warner is dropping like a stone despite the polls and the 10th district is still a stronghold for the GOP despite the fact it has gone Democrat in the last few major elections.

Funny how Wolf hasn’t even endorsed his so-called “heir apparent” in Comstock.  Maybe it is because she is revealing herself to be a carbon copy of the other religious TP’ers, something Frank Wolf was certainly not. 

The GOP has a bunch of extremists battling it out to run in a moderate district that has trended Democrat?  Wow, that sounds like a plan for victory.  Good work VA GOP.  Maybe Frank will do everyone a favor and publicly ask the party why it is being run by morons.

Right now the Warner/Gillespie polls are a measure of nothing except name recognition. While I don’t plan on voting for Warner, I trust he’s saavy enough to know that he’s not going to coast to a 15%+ victory. The polls will narrow as Gillespie picks up more name recognition and Warner has to work his way out of the Obamacare mess. While Gillespie remains the underdog, his final margin of victory or defeat won’t be near 15%, but much closer.

Look up real clear politics it averages all polls. Links keep getting stripped out of posts here.

The only poll with numbers like you are talking about I can find is a republican phone poll with only a few dozen people willing to answer. That does not meet scientific requirements.

50.8 31.8 Warner +19.0   RCP average
46 31 Warner +15     Quinnipiac
56 29 Warner +27     Roanoke College
51 37 Warner +14     Rasmussen
50 30 Warner +20     Chris. Newport Univ.

Back to story:  “A war is raging,” Lind said. “People are not happy with the party.”  Too true.

Direct me if you will to the site that has Warner up by 19% cause I just looked and the poll I see was from the 27th at 15% way down from the 27% Warner had. Either way though it’s going to be a tough sell foe the incumbent as his votes did not head off the ACA or the sequestration. I feel that if they have a I by their name for incumbent they should be voted out and in Warner’s case, vote him out twice!

oranges869 - What single conservative poll are you looking at? Real Clear Politics averages out all the polls and still hat Warner up 19% currently. The lowest he was up by was 15%, a Quinnipiac poll.

On or about the 5th of March Warner had a 27% lead over Ed Gillespie them by the 29th it was 15% a reduction of 12% in less then a month. Willing I am to say that the next poll for the senate seat will show a single digit lead for Warner and it will continue to drop. Mark has a tiger by the tail and it’s plain to see.

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