For Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA), the endorsements couldn’t come at a better time. Her Democratic opponent in Virginia’s 10th district is attempting to tie her to Trump, and “The Cook Political Report” just moved her race a “toss up.”
But Comstock’s biggest worry is that a huge anti-Trump turnout in her suburban district will simply make winning impossible. As the Post reported, “Voters in Northern Virginia are casting early absentee ballots at far higher rates than they did in the 2012 presidential election, a reflection of the surge of interest in the 2016 contest that could benefit Democrat Hillary Clinton over Republican Donald Trump.”
The irony, of course, is that thoughtful conservatives living in swing districts are much more likely to be punished by the anti-Trump backlash than are the red meat-hurling Trump supporters who live in “safe” deep-red districts. This will likely be misinterpreted by talk radio hosts as proof that a full-throated endorsement of Trump would have been smarter than attempting to distance yourself from him.
One need only look to Ohio Sen. Rob Portman’s success to rebut this. But the real tragedy is that just when the GOP will most need leaders to help repair the damage being done to their brand, voices like Comstock’s might become scarce. As the Post notes in their endorsement of her, “In the wake of its disastrous presidential nomination this year, the Republican Party will badly need elected officials willing to govern, not just wage partisan warfare.”
This is yet another cruel example of how the events of 2016 have conspired to wound and weaken the Republican Party. The candidates most likely to be swept out of office in an anti-Trump backlash are the very Republicans who espouse their thoughtful brand of conservatism to Washington—the very conservatives who might be able to steer the GOP back to solid (sane) ground.