As Republican incumbent Barbara Comstock and her Democratic opponent LuAnn Bennett prepare for their first face-to-face debate of the campaign season, here are some updates on the two candidates and where they stand heading into the crucial final stretch of the campaign.
Polls Show Comstock with a Narrow Lead
The latest published polls have the freshmen congressperson with a narrow lead. Internal polling of 400 District 10 residents conducted by Expedition Strategies for the Bennett campaign on Sept. 24 had Comstock up 45 percent to 41 percent, with one percent saying they’d vote for another candidate and 12 percent not sure yet. When accounting for where those polled were leaning, Comstock’s margin narrowed to 47 percent against Bennett’s 45, with one percent still for another candidate and seven percent leaning undecided. Both polls are within the 4.9 percent margin of error.
The numbers show a sizable gain for Bennett from a similar poll conducted in May. In that poll, Comstock was up 47 percent to Bennett’s 36 percent, with two percent favoring a different candidate and 15 percent undecided.
Campaign Ads Coming through Northern Virginia
In one of the closest races nationwide, it’s no surprise to see an influx of adds for both sides. Comstock recently released “Bipartisan Leader,” a 30 second spot that highlights her record in Congress. Rita Roy, a physician and president of Astute Technologies, describes Comstock as as “someone who brings people together and gets results” in the add. This follows up on “Caity,” a television ad that shows the congresswoman with her mother, daughter and granddaughter and similarly highlights her legislative accomplishments.
Comstock is one of several beneficiaries of a new round of contributions from the Congressional Leadership Fund, a GOP Super Pac that helps incumbent Republicans in tightly contested races. She received $1.5 million for TV and digital adds.
Meanwhile Bennett is using her recent ads to build name recognition and showcase her professional accomplishments in the business world. In “Table,” her inaugural TV add, Bennett says she is running for congress because “Washington needs more commonsense problem solvers.” The campaign followed that add up with “Fairness” an add that highlights Bennett’s focus on the female pay gap disparity.
The two campaigns have also run attacks adds aimed at their opponents. On Sept. 30, the Comstock campaign published a two-minute online spot accusing Bennett of living outside the 10th District for the last 10 years, a claim she has denied.
Earlier, the Bennett campaign released an add linking policy positions between Comstock and GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump. Comstock has made headlines by not endorsing the top of her party’s ticket. On Sept. 30, the Bennett campaign released another video that similarly associates Comstock with Trump.
Comstock Built Large Fundraising Advantage
As of June 30, Comstock had raised more than $3.2 million for her campaign and spent a little more than $1 million. Bennett had raised $1.2 million and spent around $335,000.
Candidates Staying Busy on Campaign Trail
Candidates have attended dozens of fairs, festivals and events across the district for months. With such a significant race close to the capital, it’s not surprise many high profile elected officials have come to support both candidates.
Among the biggest names was Congressman Hakeem Jeffries of New York’s 8th District, who came to Sterling to support Bennett. Alongside Loudoun County Board of Supervisors Chair Phyllis Randall and Sterling Board member Koran Saines, Jeffries talked up Bennett and the significance of the race.
“The 10th congressional district in Virginia is one of those seats we need to win. Thankfully we have such a strong candidate,” Jefffries said.
At an event in Winchester, 2016 Republican presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina came out in support of Comstock.
— Barbara Comstock (@BarbaraComstock) September 16, 2016
Debates Set in Northern Virginia
The first debate, hosted by the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce, will begin at 8:30 a.m. at the National Conference Center in Landsdowne. On Oct. 19, the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce will host a debate at 7:30 a.m. at 7900 Westpark Dr. in McLean. Additionally, the All Dulles Area Muslim Society will host a town hall meeting on Oct. 21 at its facility on 46903 Sugarland Rd in Sterling.
Candidates Talk with the Tribune About Positions and Policies
Both candidates also found time in recent weeks to sit down with the Tribune to go over issues ranging from gun control to the presidential race. For more, please click here for Comstock’s interview and here for Bennett’s.