Democrats have taken their first seat in Congress from Republicans: Jennifer Wexton handily unseated Republican Barbara Comstock in a northern Virginia district in one of the most closely watched House races in this election.
The race was called early, after Wexton showed a strong double-digit lead over Comstock less than an hour after polls closed. She had been polling ahead of Comstock throughout the race.
The win is a sign of a shift in this region of northern Virginia, which has increasingly voted for Democrats. Hillary Clinton defeated Donald Trump in 2016 by 10 points in Virginia’s 10th Congressional District. But this wealthy and highly educated suburban district has sent a Republican to Congress for 60 out of the past 66 years. Comstock was first elected to the seat in 2014.
Wexton, a former prosecutor and state senator, was well-known in the district and is well-liked by many different factions of the Democratic Party.
She ran a pretty standard Democratic campaign, supporting Medicaid expansion in Virginia and raising the minimum wage. She has been outspoken against the Republican tax bill, which she says unfairly disadvantages residents in the district by limiting the size of the deduction they could take for state and local taxes.
But she’s also shown she is willing to work with Republicans: She voted for a bipartisan deal on gun control, which expanded concealed carry rights, but also added a requirement that some domestic abusers had to give up their guns.
Comstock, meanwhile, hasn’t done much to separate herself from the Republican Party. While she’s largely been quiet on Trump, she voted with Republicans on all the most contentious issues — from the House’s Obamacare repeal effort to the Republican immigration bill and tax cuts.
Given Trump’s unpopularity in the district, Wexton was able to effectively tie Comstock to the president — even billing her as “Barbara Trumpstock” in ads.
Paired with high levels of voter enthusiasm on the left, Comstock proved to be an easy Republican to pick off for Democrats in their bid to retake control of the House.