Seasoned GOP supporter Comstock seeks to dilate her base

October 19, 2014 - Picnic Time

The pulsation kick of a child rope onstage during a new Latino festival in Leesburg, Va., creates it tough to hear electorate who mostly don’t pronounce Republican Barbara J. Comstock’s language.

But Comstock is game. She turns to an atmosphere trade controller who hopes a state nominee using for Congress would be as understanding of sovereign employees as timid Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R). Comstock starts an eager assent, yet a male cuts her off and asks about a quote from a recent debate in that Comstock suggested that if FedEx can lane packages entrance into a country, a United States should be means to lane immigrants.

Comstock explains that he “didn’t hear a whole story” — and afterwards her gawk turns to a lady subsequent to him, who has started recording a confront on her phone.

“Do we have someone filming?” Comstock asks with concern. After a moment’s hesi­ta­tion, she continues her answer to a question, if a small some-more delicately now. Only when she has finished a call for both limit confidence and step-by-step immigration remodel does she spin again to a lady and ask, with fake ease, who she’s with.

“I’m usually here by myself, to listen to a music,” a lady says and walks away.

Barbara Comstock is shown during a Virginia 10th Congressional District discuss during a Loudoun County Chamber National Conference Center in Leesburg in September. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

The impulse illustrates dual sides of Comstock. She’s a gentle campaigner, discerning thinker and famously tough worker. She’s also a heedful narrow-minded who built a career in partial by waging fight on Democrats in Washington.

In her initial congressional campaign, Comstock’s story as a strategy-minded politico certainly helped her win her party’s assignment progressing this year. But now that she has pivoted to a ubiquitous choosing in a partial of Northern Virginia where electorate tend to collect pragmatic, non-ideological candidates, Comstock contingency be clever to blunt her combatant’s edge.

Comstock’s discuss to paint Virginia’s 10th Congressional District is a biggest pull in a career of relentless essay that has taken her by many corridors of Washington energy as a congressional aide, Justice Department central and antithesis researcher for a Republican National Committee. She enjoys a repute as smarter and some-more consummate than usually about everybody who knows her.

She built that repute prolonged before she was inaugurated to a Virginia House of Delegates, where she is portion her third term.

If she was scheming a declare for a conference on Capitol Hill, that declare would know some-more than his congressional interlocutor. During a 2000 primary and ubiquitous election, if a candidate fibbed or flubbed, she would know.

“God assistance a people who are going to work for her, given there’s zero they’re going to get over on her,” says Mark Corallo, a longtime colleague incited business partner. “She’s unreal.”

When they worked together during a RNC during a 2000 election, Corallo says, reporters found Comstock’s investigate operation so arguable and committed that they began entrance to Republicans for sourcing on Democratic claims. Once, withdrawal a bureau during 3 a.m., he found her during her table flipping by a news channels and lovely a Drudge Report, “just in box something breaks.”

Barbara Comstock speaks during a Korean American Republican Party of Virginia cooking accepting in Vienna on Jul 12. (Yue Wu/The Washington Post)

“There are 3 things we need to know about Barbara Comstock,” says Daniel Moll, who worked with her on a House Government Reform and Oversight Committee. “One, she’s substantially smarter than you. Two, she’s really going to work harder than you. And three, she wants to win.”

That instinct is on full arrangement on a discuss route opposite Democrat John W. Foust — exhausting daily installments of what one internal Republican calls a “Barbara Comstock Death March.”

But so is a committed bid to benefaction her some-more tellurian side.

At a internal winery’s counter during a Clifton Day Festival, Comstock peers into a tub of slimey grapes and says she would adore to take off her black suede platforms and burst in.

“It’s gross,” says a immature lady whose relatives have forced her to try grape-stomping.

Alas, Comstock’s news is too bustling to concede it. She’s headed subsequent to a Latino festival in Leesburg, a circuitously church cruise and a veterans’ forum in Haymarket.

Comstock has avoided a kind of zingers she deployed as a veteran operative. Having once called John F. Kerry “a strange, Herman Munster-like figure” and Al Gore “unhinged,” Comstock is now a one criticizing her opponent’s oppressive remarks.

In particular, Comstock has jumped on remarks Foust done in August, when he pronounced Comstock has never had a “real job.” Comstock has used a quote in ads and during debates and open appearances; she calls it “sexist” and “intentionally demeaning.”

Her possess tinge on a branch is typically some-more one of aspiring inquiry. Asked during one new eventuality about American credit abroad, Comstock gives an answer that mentioned former invulnerability secretary Leon Panetta, one-time Clinton confidant Doug Schoen and businessman Michael Saylor, finale with an reason of a wonders of Kenyan mobile technology.

In a competition where women electorate have taken on outsized importance, Comstock mostly describes her possess function with anxiety to gender dynamics. Like many women, she says, she’s not looking for courtesy for herself: “Guys tend to go out and foster themselves a lot.” She worked harder given she feels she contingency as a lady in male-dominated fields: “I consider women tend to feel a need to be over-prepared.” She carries a “Women Rule” phone box and is an preacher for Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In.” Her grandfather was an “early feminist,” nonetheless she prefers to news herself as “a clever lady in a man’s world.”

She can’t remember teaming adult with a Democratic lawmaker on any specific bill, and she voted with her some-more regressive colleagues on dual of a many divisive measures of new memory in a Virginia General Assembly: opposite a landmark travel check that was hailed by Republican then-governor Robert F. McDonnell — and for a argumentative check mandating invasive ultrasounds for women seeking abortions.

Both votes might assistance explain Comstock’s slight reelection final year (by 462 votes) to a House of Delegates, where she represents a assuage swath of Fairfax and Loudoun counties along a Potomac River.

Asked for examples of bipartisanship, Comstock offers that she connected with Del. Charniele L. Herring (D-Alexandria) when they were both running for Congress in primary fields filled with men. She gave Herring a “Women Rule” receptacle bag.

“Barbara has always been a pivotal organizer of get-togethers for women,” says her crony Kate O’Beirne, a regressive author. She used to reason a bipartisan “Power Chick” holiday party for high-powered Washington women. Last year she launched a Young Women’s Leadership Program in a legislature that introduces center and high propagandize students to womanlike politicians and executives.

Friends of Comstock contend a amiability is real: She is awfully generous, anticipating time amid her career aspirations to be as courteous to her personal ties as she is to her work, they say.

O’Beirne recalls Comstock dropping off cooking during her residence years ago, when her mom was in a hospital.

For Bobbie Kilberg, boss of a Northern Virginia Technology Council, it was a homemade cake after she pennyless her wrist. On Mother’s Day this year, that was also a day after her daughter’s marriage and dual weeks after her primary, Comstock went to her girlfriends’ houses delivering leftover floral centerpieces.

“She would never contend she could usually do one thing or a other,” says her crony Pat Sowick, one of a centerpiece recipients. “Barbara’s always certain she could do both.”

At times, a combatant’s proceed seeps through.

After a new debate, Comstock’s discuss manager blocked a radio reporter who attempted to ask for a response to her opponent’s attacks. She has declined mixed speak requests. She has avoided open questions during some forums, observant Democrats were formulation to plant supporters in a audience; she skipped a tea celebration event for a same reason. Trackers — ubiquitous on a discuss route these days — have seen their cameras blocked with hand-held paper fans when they try to film her.

“Barbara is always friendly, yet we feel like she acts like I’m wearing a wire,” says Del. Scott A. Surovell (D-Fairfax), a narrow-minded soldier himself who leads a Democratic congress in a House of Delegates.

In response, Comstock displays an antithesis researcher’s bent to inhibit with jabs. “Scott likes to hear himself talk,” she says.

Kathleen Murphy, a Democrat who scarcely degraded Comstock final year, is good wakeful of her bravery as an antithesis researcher — and is still smarting over some of a attacks.

During that race, Comstock called Murphy “the Leona Helmsley of Virginia,” after a famous tax-evader, given of late payments on one skill her father owned and another they owned together. The properties were in good station during a time of a election. Comstock also criticized Murphy for not voting regularly, even yet open annals showed she had voted in each choosing given 1997. Murphy pronounced a indictment was formed on inadequate annals from Fairfax County.

“She will stop during zero to rip detached her opponent,” Murphy says now. “She will stop during nothing, given she is an consultant in a politics of personal destruction.”

She adds this assessment: “She’s really good during it, by a way.”

Comstock sidesteps inquiries about her narrow-minded reputation. She says what matters is her record in a legislature and a quality-of-life issues she has advocated for there.

And she takes heedfulness not to arrangement that side of herself in places like Clifton, where stops each few feet to shake a palm or coo during a baby in a voice both chipper and low. She’s accessible and warm; she infrequently seems somewhat apologetic about interrupting a stranger.

She buys a magnet from a therapeutic-horseback-riding nonprofit. She takes a business label from a businessman offered beaded necklaces — “My sister loves things like that” — and recommends a surgeon during Inova Fairfax Hospital to a lady in a neck brace. She fist-bumps a grill salesman whose palm is too greasy to shake. She tells a guitar actor she’s also a fan of Neil Young.

And afterwards it’s time to leave. Heading down Main Street to a parking lot, she breaks into a trot. “She’s running,” an assistance sighs, and tries to locate up.

Antonio Olivo contributed to this report.

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