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Virginia State Delegate Barbara Comstock is the ur-Republican.

Comstock, who is the frontrunner for her party’s nomination in the open seat in Virginia’s 10th Congressional District, made a career as a party apparatchik before seeking elected office. She investigated Whitewater in the 1990s, before moving on to digging up dirt on Al Gore in 2000 and becoming a zealous defender of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay while he was under criminal investigation in 2005.  She has endorsements from political figures ranging from telling the Washington Post “her ‘recollection’ was flawed, and that her vote had nothing to do with Mr. Limbaugh.”  Instead, she said it was simply because she thought Obama would be the weakest Democrat to run against McCain.  

This has all fueled attacks against Comstock by her opponents in the primary, who include arch conservative Del. Bob Marshall, former Hill staffer Rob Wasinger and former Defense Department official Howie Lind. Wasinger has even gone so far as to call on Comstock to drop out and run as a Democrat instead.

The irony, of course, is that this stretch of Washington DC suburbs and exurbs and Northern Virginia is a quintessential swing district. Barack Obama won it 51-48 in 2008 but just barely lost it 50-49 in 2012 and it’s one of the most competitive House seats in the country. In order for the eventual Republican nominee to hold on to the district for the GOP, a key target will be those traditionally Republican leaning swing voters in this well-to-do district who may crossed over to vote for Obama once or even twice. And this debate won’t exactly win them over.

The Republican primary for the seat will be held on April 26.

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