Barbara Comstock

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Barbara Comstock
Barbara Comstock official photo, 114th Congress.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 10th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2015
Preceded by Frank Wolf
Member of the Virginia House of Delegates
from the 34th district
In office
January 13, 2010 – November 10, 2014
Preceded by Margaret Vanderhye
Succeeded by Kathleen Murphy
Personal details
Born Barbara Jean Burns
(1959-06-30) June 30, 1959 (age 59)
Springfield, Massachusetts, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Chip Comstock (1982–present)
Children Daniel, Peter, Catherine
Alma mater Middlebury College (B.A.)
Georgetown University (J.D.)
Religion Roman Catholic
Website Campaign website

Barbara Jean Comstock (born June 30, 1959) is an American politician, currently a Republican member of the U.S. Congress from Virginia's 10th District. From 2010 to 2014, she was a member of the Virginia House of Delegates. She first won election to her seat in 2009, defeating Democratic incumbent Margaret Vanderhye.[5][6] She has worked at numerous positions for various government agencies, including chief counsel of the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee, director of public affairs at the Department of Justice, and as a staffer for Congressman Frank Wolf. She is a founding partner and co-principal of opposition research and public relations firm Corallo Comstock.[7][8]

On January 7, 2014, Comstock announced her candidacy for U.S. Congress from Virginia's 10th District. She won that election and took office in January 2015.


Comstock began her congressional career as an intern for Senator Ted Kennedy. After working as a lawyer in private practice, Comstock served from 1991–1995 as a senior aide to Congressman Frank Wolf. Comstock then served as chief investigative counsel and senior counsel for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Government Reform from 1995 to 1999, working as one of Washington's most prominent anti-Clinton opposition researchers.[9][10]

Comstock worked on behalf of the 2000 presidential campaign of George W. Bush. Her research team built massive stores of paper and electronic data, known as "The Gore File," that were a key source of information on the former vice president for GOP publicists and ad-makers.[9] Comstock is credited with writing the Republican "playbook" defending Bush nominees such as John Ashcroft for U.S. Attorney General.[9] Comstock later served as director of public affairs for the Justice Department from 2002 to 2003.[11] She has been praised for her work in opposition research for the Republican National Committee.[9][12]

Comstock joined lobbyist firm Blank Rome LLP in 2004. [13][14][15]

Comstock assisted the defense teams of both I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby[7] and former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.[16] In 2005, Comstock was hired by Dan Glickman to lobby on behalf of the Motion Picture Association of America.[17]

Comstock was a consultant on the presidential campaign of Mitt Romney and is also a consultant to the Workforce Fairness Institute, which opposes the Employee Free Choice Act.[18] Comstock was paid from 2008 through 2012 by WFI[clarification needed], according to her campaign, but she made at least two more media appearances on behalf of the group in 2013[citation needed] While serving as Delegate. She initially failed to list WFI as a client when she filed papers to run for the seat. Her campaign later disclosed the relationship to The Washington Post,[19] calling the omission unintentional. Congressional candidates with an ownership interest in companies are required to report clients who paid $5,000 or more in fees. While receiving payments, Comstock sponsored legislation that benefited the WFI and their primary objectives.[20] She also serves as Co-Chair of the Executive Committee of the Susan B. Anthony List.[21]

In 2011, Comstock voted in favor of HB 462, which required women to have ultrasounds before receiving an abortion. When opponents pointed out that this would necessitate an internal ultrasound for early-term pregnancies, an amendment was passed to limit the requirement to external ultrasounds only.[22] She also voted in favor of the amendment.[23] Comstock supports exceptions to bans on abortions in cases of rape, incest, or when the mother's life is in danger.[22] She also supports making birth control available to women over the counter.[23]

U.S. House of Representatives

2014 election

On January 7, 2014 she announced her candidacy for the U.S. House of Representatives from Virginia's 10th District, following the announcement that Rep. Frank Wolf will retire at the end of the 113th Congress rather than run for reelection.

The Daily Caller reported that an opposition research packet on Comstock suggests she "will likely come under fire in Virginia’s 10th congressional district race over the question of whether she is conservative enough."[24]

On April 26, 2014, Barbara Comstock won the Republican nomination for the U.S. House of Representatives in the 10th District firehouse primary, defeating five other candidates and winning approximately 54% of the total vote.

While debating John Foust at Virginia's 10th Congressional District Debate, Comstock answered a question about how congress should handle comprehensive immigration reform. She said, “Fed-Ex can track packages coming in here all of the time, we can track people who are coming into the country and we can do that right.” She then went on to oppose passing comprehensive immigration reform preferring a piecemeal approach instead.[25][26]

Comstock in tandem with Republican Senate candidate Ed Gillespie planned on attending a public meeting Northern Shenandoah Valley Tea Party in early August. After rumors arose that questions would be taken from the crowd at this public event, both candidates moved the meeting to a private location. After criticism from Democratic candidates about why they needed to hide behind closed doors to meet with their base of voters, Comstock and Gillespie opted to chat with the group by phone instead. This decision prompted a statement from David Sparkman, chairman of the Tea Party group, to say, "I'm disappointed, I wanted to look these politicians in the eye and take their measure."[27]

Comstock has received the endorsements of the United States Chamber of Commerce,[28] the National Federation of Independent Business,[29] and both the Virginia Association of Realtors and the National Association of Realtors.[30] On August 28, 2014, Comstock received the endorsement of the Virginia Police Benevolent Association (VAPBA). In 2012 the VAPBA had endorsed the Democratic challenger to Rep. Frank Wolf in the same district.[31]

Comstock won the election on November 4, 2014, defeating Democrat John Foust with 56 percent of the vote.[32]

Committee assignments

Electoral history

Virginia House of Delegates General Election, 2009
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Barbara Comstock 12,636 51
Democratic Margaret Vanderhye 12,214 49
Independent Write-in candidates 26 <1
Total votes 24,850 100
Virginia House of Delegates General Election, 2011
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Barbara Comstock 11,628 55
Democratic Pamela Danner 9,573 45
Independent Write-in candidates 16 <1
Total votes 21,217 100
Virginia House of Delegates General Election, 2013
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Barbara Comstock 14,962 51
Democratic Kathleen Murphy 14,540 49
Independent Write-in candidates 42 <1
Total votes 29,544 100
U.S. House of Representatives General Election, 2014[33]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Barbara Comstock 125,867 56
Democratic John Foust 89,895 40
Libertarian William B. Redpath 3,393 2
Independent Brad A. Eickholt 2,441 1
Independent Green Dianne L. Blais 944 <1
Independent Write-in candidates 261 <1
Total votes 222,801 100


  1. "Barbara Burns Bride Of Elwyn C. Comstock". New York Times. October 10, 1982. Retrieved 2012-08-12.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Bio for Barbara J. Comstock". Virginia General Assembly. Retrieved 2013-08-12.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "GOP's Barbara Comstock wins Virginia's 10th Congressional District, keeps seat Republican". Washington Post. Associated Press. November 4, 2014. Retrieved 2014-11-05.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Olivo, Antonio (November 4, 2014). "Comstock declared victory in Virginia's 10th District". Washington Post. Retrieved 2014-11-05.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. DiCicco, Mike (4 November 2009). "Republican Comstock Ousts Vanderhye in Close Race". Connection Newspapers. Retrieved 5 November 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>[dead link]
  6. Gardner, Amy (5 August 2009). "House Call!". Retrieved 19 August 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. 7.0 7.1 Singer, Paul; Tory Newmyer (11 April 2007). "K Street Files". Roll Call. p. 7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Bolton, Alexander; Brittney Moraski (20 December 2007). "Lobbyists on Obama's '08 payroll". The Hill. Archived from the original on 2009-03-06. Retrieved 19 August 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 John Mintz (22 August 2001). "One-Woman Wrecking Crew Targets Democratic Leaders: Meticulous Comstock Helps RNC Skewer the Opposition". Washington Post. pp. A17.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Comstock, Barbara; Lanny J. Davis (20 October 2008). "What's Fair is Fair". National Review Online. Retrieved 19 August 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Hedges, Michael (13 November 2005). "When GOP ails, ex-Houstonian has cure". Houston Chronicle. |access-date= requires |url= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. VandenDolder, Tess (6 August 2014). "In Virginia's 10th District Congressional Race, K Street Ties Are Everything". InTheCapital. Retrieved 19 October 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Murphy, Tim (April 25, 2014). "Can This Oppo Research Guru Survive the Mudslinging in Her GOP Primary?". Mother Jones. Retrieved October 26, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Joseph, Cameron (August 6, 2014). "K St. connections dog Va. hopeful". The Hill. Retrieved October 26, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. Allen, Mike (10 April 2005). "DeLay's Backers Launch Offense". Washington Post. p. A4. Retrieved 19 August 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. Mullins, Brody; Kate Kelly (24 August 2005). "Movie Lobbyist Reaches Across the Aisle". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 19 August 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. "Highlights on the Show: Jan 12-16, 2008". The Thom Hartmann Program. Air America. 12 January 2008. Retrieved 19 August 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>[dead link]
  19. Olivo, Antonio (5 September 2014). "Barbara J. Comstock, Va. GOP candidate for U.S. House, failed to report $85,000". The Washington Post. Retrieved 19 October 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. Parti, Tarini (9 October 2014). "Barbara Comstock pushed client's issues, didn't disclose". Politico. Retrieved 19 October 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. Executive Committee | SBA-List
  22. 22.0 22.1 Weiner, Rachel (Sep 15, 2014). "Foust reminds voters of Comstock's vote for 'transvaginal ultrasounds' in new ad". The Washington Post. Retrieved Sep 28, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. 23.0 23.1 Spencer, Jason (23 October 2013). "Comstock, Murphy On The Issues". Mclean Patch.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. Pappas, Alex (5 February 2014). "Here's the opposition research packet on Barbara Comstock". The Daily Caller. Retrieved 5 February 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. "Virginia 10th Congressional District Debate: Clip". CSPAN. National Cable Satellite. Retrieved 19 October 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  26. Sakuma, Amanda (25 September 2014). "GOP candidate: US should track immigrants like Fed-Ex packages". NBC Universal. MSNBC. Retrieved 19 October 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  27. Portnoy, Jenna. "Gillespie, Comstock choose call after event venue is changed to evade 'unfriendlies'". The Washington Post.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  28. "U.S. Chamber Backs Comstock In One Of 2014's 'Most Watched Races'". Loudoun Business. Retrieved 19 August 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  29. "NFIB Endorses Barbara Comstock for Congress". Retrieved July 30, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  30. Baratko, Trevor. "Race for Virginia's 10th: Debate set, endorsements touted". Retrieved August 19, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  31. "Comstock Gets Police Endorsement". Bearing Drift. Retrieved 28 August 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  32. "Virginia 10th District: Barbara Comstock Declares Victory". NBC Washington. Retrieved 6 November 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  33. "2014 Election Results". Virginia Department of Elections. Retrieved 2014-11-05.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Frank Wolf
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 10th congressional district

January 3, 2015 – present
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Buddy Carter
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Ryan Costello