Identifying and analyzing emerging trends in campaigns and elections.

Comstock Takes “Firehouse” Election; A Grimm Situation

In Election Analysis on April 28, 2014 at 10:34 am

The “Firehouse” Republican primary vote in Virginia’s 10th Congressional District occurred Saturday and, as expected, Virginia Delegate Barbara Comstock claimed a majority of the 13,609 voters who participated in the unusual election.

Comstock received 7,337 votes, or 53.9 percent. State Delegate Bob Marshall was a distant second, attracting 3,829 votes (28.1 percent). In high single-digits were businessmen Howie Lind and Stephen Hollingshead. Former Kansas congressional candidate Rob Wasinger and businessman Mark Savitt finished at the bottom, each garnering less than 2.5 percent of the vote.

The firehouse primary concept was a compromise between some local party forces who pushed for a regular primary and those who were supporting a nominating convention. The firehouse primary designated just 10 polling places throughout VA-10, a seat that begins in north and west Fairfax County, annexes Loudoun County, and then travels all the way to West Virginia.

Comstock won seven of the 10 voting locations, including scoring a whopping 91 percent in the Langley polling station, which is her home region. Despite brandishing a strong conservative record while serving three terms in the House of Delegates, Marshall and others attacked her from a far right position. After emphasizing her most conservative positions for this low-vote primary, we will now see Comstock begin tacking back toward the center since the general election is now officially underway.

As for her Democratic opponent, Fairfax County Supervisor John Foust is unopposed for his party’s nomination. The two-term local official wasted no time in leveling an attack against Comstock after congratulating her upon winning the Republican nomination. “Comstock’s brand of partisan brinkmanship is exactly what’s wrong in Washington,” Foust stated in an interview with a Washington Post reporter.

Both Foust and Comstock have already raised over $760,000 so far. The Republican spent just over $241,000 on her nomination effort. Therefore, the Democrat will have at least a short-term resource advantage in the early going. Expect he and the liberal outside organizations to quickly level attacks against Comstock in an attempt to weaken her general election position.

The 10th District is a marginal seat that normally leans Republican, though the 2012 presidential vote drew to within just one percentage point. Mitt Romney eked out a close 50-49 percent win within this district’s confines, even though he lost the state, 47-51 percent.

Comstock is the decided favorite for the fall, but Democratic opportunities are few and far between. They will be forced to spend heavily here, and then hope that national trends begin to swing their way.

NY-11

The developing story surrounding an impending criminal indictment against two-term Rep. Michael Grimm (R) will most probably put a marginal seat in the Democratic column. Since Rep. Grimm’s legal proceedings will almost assuredly continue through the election, New York City Councilman Domenic Recchia now becomes a slight favorite to convert the seat in November.

Since the US Attorney waited until the New York candidate filing deadline had passed to take formal action against Grimm, Republicans will be unable to replace him on the ballot. The Congressman is also the Conservative and Independence parties’ nominee. Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long already issued a statement saying his organization will continue to support Grimm.

Should this seat change hands, it will likely bring the two parties back to the current party division ratio. Republicans are very likely to take the North Carolina seat of the retiring Rep. Mike McIntyre (D-NC-7), and that of retiring Congressman Jim Matheson (D-UT-4). Democrats, in addition to being now well positioned to convert the Grimm seat, are heavily favored to win Rep. Gary Miller’s (R-CA-31) open seat in California.

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