A Republican candidate who scored a huge victory on Tuesday just might offer some insights on how Republicans can triumph over the “war on women” rhetoric.
I refer of course to Barbara Comstock, a member of the Virginia House of Delegates. Ms. Comstock is anything but a squish. Yet she won big in a district that includes Washington suburbs and went overwhelmingly for Democrats Tim Kaine and Barack Obama in 2012.
Mona Charen has an excellent column suggesting that Comstock might provide a playbook for Republicans when they are confronted with phony “war on women” messaging. Mona writes:
If conservatives want to win elections and not just preen about their ideological purity, they should study Comstock.
How can conservatives cope with the “women’s issues” that are handing Democrats huge percentages of the women’s vote? Comstock is not furtive about her opposition to abortion. At a debate the week before the election, she spoke affectionately of her son-in-law’s birthmother and of her “courageous and loving” decision to place him for adoption. She also took a page from Governor Bobby Jindal’s book and endorsed making birth-control pills available over the counter, as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends. It’s hard to paint her as someone who wants to keep women barefoot and pregnant when she advocates making birth-control pills easier to obtain. Her opponent opposed this.
Comstock fought back aggressively when Murphy accused her of opposing funds for cancer screening (this smear was used against a number of Virginia Republicans this year). Comstock pointed out that Kathleen Murphy was referring to a Democratic legislative effort to pull cancer-screening funds from the health department and turn them over to Planned Parenthood.
Comstock authored legislation to ease telework (traffic congestion plagues her region), require competitive bidding on state transportation projects (unions were unhappy, but taxpayers saved $400 million), curb human trafficking, and provide more in-state slots at Virginia colleges. She sponsored legislation on Lyme disease and joined efforts on all-day kindergarten programs and instant background checks for gun purchasers. Why those? Because her constituents requested them. “You’re supposed to be serving them,” she notes, “not the other way around.”