Bob Brink

Former Del. Bob Brink speaks to members of the Kiwanis Club of Arlington on July 18, 2018. (Photo by Dick Barr)

A longtime member of the General Assembly thinks Democrat Jennifer Wexton has the edge over incumbent U.S. Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-10th). But he isn’t ready to stick a fork in the race and call it done.

Comstock “is a fiercely competitive politician. I would never, ever count her out,” former Del. Bob Brink said at the July 18 meeting of the Kiwanis Club of Arlington. “But if I were her, I wouldn’t place a double order of business cards.”

Wexton, a state senator from Loudoun, is facing off against Comstock in what could be one of the most competitive, and costly, congressional races nationwide. The 10th District, which runs from McLean west and south to rural areas of the Shenandoah Valley, has been increasingly trending Democratic, but two years ago Comstock managed to hold her seat despite the district’s going to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

Since it was created in 1952, the 10th District has been in Republican hands for 60 of 66 years, including long stints in office by Reps. Joel Broyhill (1953-74) and Frank Wolf (1981-2014). Comstock, a former aide to Wolf, succeeded him after the 2014 election after defeating Fairfax Supervisor John Foust (D-Dranesville).

While suggesting Wexton had a route to victory, Brink declined to pronounce her win a sure bet. Quoting a line attributed to Yogi Berra, he said: “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”

Brink, a Democrat, in 1997 was elected to represent the 48th House District, which includes parts of Arlington and McLean. He held the seat until 2014, when he moved into the McAuliffe administration. He departed government service this January.

When Brink took his seat in 1998, the House of Delegates was divided between political parties on an even 50-50 basis, and operated on a power-sharing arrangement. “It was a pretty productive two years,” he recalled.

In ensuing years, Republicans built a huge majority in the body, only to see it evaporate in the 2017 legislative elections. The GOP now holds a slim 51-49 majority.

Brink said population and demographic changes are constantly altering the political landscape of the Old Dominion.

Twenty years from now, the commonwealth “will be barely recognizable from the Virginia we know today,” he predicted.

Brink, a moderate Democrat, served on the powerful House Appropriations Committee, one of the few placed where those of his party could make a difference during the “years in the wilderness” when Republicans held a two-to-one balance of power in the body.

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