Koch Lobbyist and Clinton Archenemy Wins in Virginia

Barbara Comstock is in K Street’s corner.

 

What do Blackwater’s founder, Koch Industries, and Mitt Romney have in common? They’ve all been represented by Northern Virginia’s newest congresswoman.

Republican Barbara Comstock cruised to victory on Tuesday, easing past Fairfax County supervisor John Foust in a suburban DC district. Comstock will replace retiring GOP Rep. Frank Wolf, for whom she once worked as an aide. You’ll be hearing a lot more from her.

Electing Comstock—a veteran of two Romney campaigns, the Bush White House, and the Clinton wars—was personal for establishment Republicans. As I reported in an April profile, she got her start as an investigator on the House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee in the 1990s, carving out a reputation as one of the Clintons’ most obsessive critics. She parlayed her work as opposition-research guru for George W. Bush’s first campaign into a job as a spokeswoman for Attorney General John Ashcroft. She then moved into crisis PR, where she repped clients such as Blackwater founder Erik Prince and disgraced Cheney aide Scooter Libby. From there, she moved on to lobbying, on behalf of companies like Koch Industries and the private prison giant GEO Group. If liberals were upset about it in the 2000s, chances are Barbara Comstock was involved somehow.

Although the 10th district leans red, Democratic groups poured more than $1.2 million into the race in the hopes of expanding on their gains in an increasingly blue state. Dismissing Comstock’s work in DC, Foust said of his opponent, “I don’t even think she’s had a real job.” In response, Republicans flooded the airwaves with ads like this one, slamming Foust as a hurtful misogynist:

The ad doesn’t quite get it right—Foust was attacking all women in the same way that Republicans who insist President Barack Obama never held a real job are attacking all men.

But the sexism narrative obscured a larger trend that Comstock’s victory helps solidify—the Beltwayification of Northern Virginia. Consider that Virginia’s new Democratic governor was a Democratic National Committee chair and fundraising guru; Virginia’s junior senator, Tim Kaine, was a DNC chair*; Virginia’s GOP Senate nominee, Ed Gillespie, was a former Republican National Committee chair and high-powered lobbyist from the DC suburbs; George Allen, Virginia’s GOP Senate nominee in 2012, was a lobbyist from the DC suburbs. Foust’s mistake wasn’t misogyny; it was forgetting that lobbyists are people too—especially in McLean, Virginia.

*Correction: This story originally stated that Kaine is from the DC suburbs; he is from Richmond.

 

TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

And if you can help us out with a donation right now, all online gifts will be matched thanks to an incredibly generous matching gift pledge.

payment methods

TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

And if you can help us out with a donation right now, all online gifts will be matched thanks to an incredibly generous matching gift pledge.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate