STERLING, Va. — Representative Barbara Comstock consistently attends Eid festivals at the Adams Center, one of the largest mosques in the United States. When a young Muslim earns his Eagle Scout Award, she is there reliably, bearing an American flag as a gift.
The same has been true at Diwali, India’s festival of lights, at Korean National Day and Pakistan Day. In the diverse Washington, D.C., suburbs that make up a large swath of Virginia’s 10th Congressional District, Ms. Comstock is known for one trait: She shows up.
But in this midterm election cycle, her dutiful courting, which saved her in 2016 when Hillary Clinton easily defeated President Trump in her district, may not be enough. This November, for many previously reliable Comstock voters, the name that will determine their vote will not be on the ballot: Donald J. Trump.
“On a personal basis, people really like her, but when they walk into the polling booth, they look at it and say, ‘I am voting against Donald Trump and his administration,’” said Robert Marrow, a member of the Adams Center mosque.
Few congressional districts present as great a challenge for a Republican incumbent as Virginia’s 10th. Though it stretches from the suburbs to rural areas, the district has one of the highest concentrations of college graduates in a Republican-held seat and is teeming with a vibrant, successful immigrant presence. It is also an area heavily reliant on connections to the government, and is increasingly seen as a Democratic stronghold in federal races.
Ms. Comstock’s prospects dimmed further when Republicans nominated Corey Stewart as their Senate candidate last month. His positions on immigration, Confederate heritage and other social issues are widely seen as a drag for other candidates. On Saturday, the Fairfax County Republican Party held a “Meet the Ticket” event, headed by Mr. Stewart and two other congressional candidates.
Ms. Comstock was “unavailable,” said Tim Hannigan, the county party chairman.
Late last month, the nonpartisan Cook Political Report moved her race from a tossup to “Leans Democrat,” one of nine Republican House seats in which the newsletter now favors a Democrat to win — but the only one occupied by an incumbent.
“It’s four months to go, and I’ve seen people come back from a lot worse,” said Tom Davis, a Comstock supporter and former Republican House member from Northern Virginia. “Clearly, she needs to change the trajectory of this race,” he said, adding: “We shouldn’t sugarcoat this. This isn’t pretty.”
If Ms. Comstock loses, it will not be out of complacency. On Saturday, her 59th birthday, her schedule included stops at an Indian-American community event and a Bangladeshi-American soccer tournament. “I am going to celebrate my birthday after 8 or 9,” she said between stops.
Ms. Comstock said she is well known in her district, and has delivered on several legislative priorities of minority business and faith communities, relationships she will need to help her overcome antipathy toward the president. “I think we have a sophisticated electorate that understands that I am my own person,” she said.
For instance, she said she opposed travel restrictions based on immigrants’ faith, a break from Mr. Trump’s call for a Muslim ban. “I don’t support anything on the basis of religion,” she said. “It needs to be on the basis of national security.”
Matt Gorman, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, said the party still had confidence in Ms. Comstock, even in the face of a recent poll that showed her trailing by 10 percentage points. “We plan to play in this race,” he said.
When asked if the committee would continue to put in money, Mr. Gorman noted that it had reserved a substantial advertising buy but added, “Right now, we have nothing to announce either way.”
At the mosque in Sterling, thousands of Muslims show up for Friday prayers, and it is common for politicians to speak after services, or for groups to conduct voter registration or petition drives. Ms. Comstock’s Democratic opponent, Jennifer Wexton, a state senator, attended the same Eid services as Ms. Comstock this month. Ms. Wexton has the strong backing of the state’s top Democrats, including Gov. Ralph Northam and Senators Tim Kaine, who is also up for re-election, and Mark Warner.
Ms. Comstock emphasized her record more than her political orientation. “We are all about results and getting things done,” she said. “My opponent said she is going to be the candidate of the resistance. She’s a protester. I am working on getting things done. Sometimes that means compromises.”
In her primary, Ms. Wexton was actually seen as the favored candidate of her party’s establishment.
“While Barbara Comstock was on K Street working for extremist Republicans, I was working as a local prosecutor protecting families and children, and serving my community,” Ms. Wexton said in an email. “During my four years in the State Senate, I’ve passed over 40 bipartisan pieces of legislation, and helped expand Medicaid to provide health care to over 300,000 Virginians. The people of Northern Virginia know that I can get results and are tired of Comstock showing up for photo opportunities but never having their backs in Congress.”
At the mosque, Mr. Marrow said Ms. Comstock and her office had provided excellent constituent service, notably on the issue of immigration, and that congregants appreciated her consistent presence at major events. “She has really reached out and tried to provide constituent service to anyone who needs it,” Mr. Marrow said. “Her staff has been extremely good making sure people don’t feel they are in any way not welcome in her office.”
Still, he said, many Muslims and other minority voters in the district may not have her name in mind when they cast ballots in November. Voters seem exceptionally engaged, he said, measuring their intensity by the increasing numbers who stay after Friday prayers to listen to candidates. When they cast ballots, Mr. Trump may be the politician they have in mind.
Other Comstock supporters hold fast to the belief that she can hold on. “She’s going to be one of the very few Republicans that will make it out of November despite the anti-G.O.P. national wave,” said David Ramadan, a Republican who served with Ms. Comstock in the Virginia legislature. “She will survive because of the relationships she built with minority constituencies in the district, Indians, Muslims, Koreans.”
Rajesh Gooty, a leader in the area’s Hindu community, said Ms. Comstock had a durable popularity among some Indian-Americans, and several have held fund-raisers for her. “She is a good listener and at festive events like Diwali, fully engages with the Hindu faith members and delivers appropriate messages,” Mr. Gooty said. Ms. Comstock, he said, is “here to stay.”
But others believe Ms. Comstock’s reach among minority voters has its limits.
“For the Korean-American events, sometimes, she will come and she usually has a canned statement,” said Grace Wolf Cunningham, a Democrat and Korean-American on the Herndon Town Council. “I think that she is very good at making that token show of support for the community, but personally, I haven’t seen her show any substance.”
“Maybe for some people, showing is good enough,” she said. “People are wising up.”
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