At their final debate for Virginia’s 10th Congressional District seat Oct. 19, Republican incumbent Barbara Comstock and Democrat challenger LuAnn Bennett stuck to the themes they’ve been pushing for months. With less than three weeks left before Election Day, Comstock stressed her bipartisan record in Congress while Bennett highlighted her ability to unite people through her business experience.
Speaking before members of the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce in McLean, both also used the forum to criticize their opponent. In her opening remarks, Comstock accused Bennett of living in Washington DC for the past 10 years, a claim Bennett has repeatedly denied. Bennett used her opening remarks in part to tie Comstock with Donald Trump, saying that her policy positions line up with the GOP presidential nominee. As she has in the past, Comstock distanced herself from Trump, answering with examples of where she has worked on bipartisan legislation.
Bennett in turn accused her opponent of being part of a “do nothing” Congress, and said new leadership was needed from the 10th District, which has voted for Republicans in 17 consecutive elections. Several recent polls have this year’s race as close, with the edge to Comstock.
Kathryn Falk of Cox Communications moderated the debate, asking each candidate to respond to 13 questions. Though both candidates generally agreed on many issues, they typically took different approaches and criticized their opponent.
When asked about Metro, Bennett talked about how important it was to the area and that it needed strong funding. She attacked Comstock for “political extremism” because she voted against Metro’s expansion when she was a member of the Virginia House of Delegates.
Comstock responded that she had worked in Congress to fund Metro, even when it meant going against her party. She said she voted against the expansion bill in the House of Delegates because it needed a competitive bidding bill for work on the expansion.
She also added that while she was working on Metro, Bennett “was somewhere else, not working in Virginia.”
On energy policy and addressing climate change, Comstock reiterated her support for an “all of the above” solution, utilizing an array of energy options. Bennett said she saw an opportunity for new growth in an energy transition and accused Comstock of denying the significance of global warming.
In regards to the House, Comstock said Republicans will retain control and that re-electing her would help cut through the gridlock.
“We don’t need another minority member of Congress,” Comstock said, in reference to adding another Democrat if Bennett is elected.
“Being a member of the majority is a big assumption,” Bennett said in response to Comstock’s assertion. “The Republican-lead Congress needs to change.”
The candidates will appear at the Adams Center in Sterling in a town hall format Oct. 20, but it will not be a face-to-face debate.