Jennifer Wexton wins Dem primary to take on Comstock

Jennifer Wexton wins Dem primary to take on Comstock
© Greg Nash

State Sen. Jennifer Wexton is projected to win her Democratic congressional primary in Virginia, setting the stage for a high-profile clash against vulnerable Rep. Barbara ComstockBarbara Jean ComstockMillionaires group endorses Dem House candidates opposed to GOP tax law Election Countdown: Trump confident about midterms in Hill.TV interview | Kavanaugh controversy tests candidates | Sanders, Warren ponder if both can run | Super PACs spending big | Two states open general election voting Friday | Latest Senate polls Overnight Energy: Watchdog to investigate EPA over Hurricane Harvey | Panel asks GAO to expand probe into sexual harassment in science | States sue over methane rules rollback MORE (R) in November.

The Associated Press called the race for Wexton at 8:05 p.m., and for Comstock shortly thereafter.

Wexton defeated five other Democrats for the nomination Tuesday in a competitive district that encompasses the Washington, D.C., suburbs and stretches to near West Virginia. She will now go on to face Comstock in one of the top House races this cycle.

The state senator had been considered the front-runner in her race, as she was the only Democrat in Tuesday's primary who had previously won elected office. Wexton had the highest name recognition, particularly since she represents Loudoun County, which is where a significant portion of voters live in the 10th Congressional District.

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Wexton faced three other well-funded challengers who all raised seven figures and were up on the airwaves in D.C.'s pricey media market. Her main rivals were Army veteran Dan Helmer, anti-human trafficking activist Alison Friedman and Lindsey Davis Stover, a senior adviser on veterans policy in the Obama administration.

Two of those opponents, Helmer and Friedman, criticized Wexton's record on guns, including her backing of a gun control compromise signed by then-Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) in 2016, which expanded rights for concealed-carry permit holders.

But Wexton defended her vote and also highlighted her support for gun reforms, including a ban on assault weapons and call for universal background checks.

"Our work, however, is just beginning. We are now on a mission to bring real representation to Northern Virginia and to remove Barbara Comstock from office,” Wexton said in a statement. 

Now, Wexton enters the general election for a seat viewed as one of Democrats’ best pickup opportunities this year.

Comstock’s affluent and well-educated district has been in GOP hands for years, but has been recently trending blue. Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonPompeo: 'We've not been successful' in changing US-Russia relations Michael Moore ties Obama to Trump's win in Michigan in 2016 The Memo: Could Kavanaugh furor spark another ‘year of the woman’? MORE won it by 10 points in 2016 and Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam carried it by more than 12 points in the 2017 governor’s race.

Comstock, who faces her own primary challenge, has been looking to keep the focus on more local issues. While she faces a tough reelection race, she has high name recognition and goes into her general election fight with nearly $1.7 million in the bank — more than double what Wexton has in her campaign account.