By now many of you have seen the cringe-worthy ad for Dan Hellmer (D) who is running against Representative Barbara Comstock (R) for the 10th District seat to the House in Northern Virginia. If you live under a rock and haven’t seen it, take look.
First, I had to get over the complete destruction of my schoolgirl crushes on Maverick and Goose. Next, I mourned the horrific bastardization of the Righteous Brothers’ iconic lyrics. Then, I marveled at the gobsmacking cheesiness of the whole presentation, beginning with Hellmer parallel parking his rice-burner and revealing his “Veteran” t-shirt. Curious, I had to dig a little deeper.
Barbara Comstock is an experienced attorney and civil servant who won her 2nd term to Congress in 2016 after serving in the Virginia state legislature. Despite being billed as a battleground district in 2016, she won her second term by nearly six percentage points, even though the largest county voted decidedly for Hillary Clinton. The median household income is over $100,000 and the district enjoys high rates of both high school and college graduation.
Looking ahead to 2018, the current Democratic primary in the district is far from over. Seven candidates in addition to Mr. Hellmer have thrown their hat into the ring to challenge Comstock. Given that fact, one has to wonder why is Hellmer already directly challenging her? Perhaps the issues in the video are a burning dumpster fire in terms of Representative Comstock’s record?
Upon further examination, Obamacare was nearly a dumpster fire for the entire state when several insurers decided to exit the exchanges in 2018 leaving nearly 60 counties with no option. This has since been reversed and each county will have at least one insurance provider, but the premium increases across the state range from 35% – 73%. As of March 2017, 421,897 Virginians were enrolled in the Exchanges with 81% receiving a subsidy. This amounts to approximately 5% of the population of the entire state. In a county with such a high median income and lots of federal employees, one has to question the importance of this issue in District 10.
Okay, next issue. Hellner called out Comstock’s vote on Planned Parenthood funding. As with the rest of the nation, Virginia’s abortion rate has been declining, which is fantastic news. There was a decline of 23% from 2011 through 2014 alone. There are also fewer clinics in the state today than in 2011 and a simple Google search shows four Planned Parenthood clinics in the entire state. There are far more health centers that provide comprehensive women’s health services and counseling in District 10.
Comstock on the other hand, appears to have been quite consistent in supporting the issues as described on her campaign website. Not a far right ideologue, she has promoted such issues as paid maternity leave for Federal employees, supported holistic legislation to include counseling and recovery services to fight the opioid crisis and works with a non-partisan organization to support young women entering STEM careers. She has supported infrastructure spending for public transportation and is also solid on veteran’s issues. Additionally, her positions on Planned Parenthood and Obamacare were well documented by votes in the House before her 2016 reelection. She was never a Centrist on either.
So while Mr. Hellmer provided a wildly embarrassing and perhaps award winning (not in a good way) viral ad, I’m not convinced he provided a whole lot for the voters in VA-10 to jump on board with. He might have wanted to differentiate himself from his adversaries in the Democratic primary before jumping off this cliff.
And that blonde chick? She was no Maverick.