Rep. Frank Wolf’s (R-VA) is retiring from Congress, leaving his Northern Virginia congressional seat open in a competitive race. At least two Republicans, state Senator Dick Black and Delegate Barbara Comstock, are vying for their party’s nomination.
Black has a controversial record on rape, women’s health, slavery, and LGBT rights, as discussed by Mother Jones Wednesday. Comstock stands for ultra-conservative policies, too, particularly when it comes to restricting abortion and women’s health.
Those views complicate the GOP’s effort to moderate their policies and appeal to minority, gay, and women voters and resemble the positions of Ken Cuccinelli, the party’s failed gubernatorial candidate:
1. Abortion is like slavery and the Holocaust: According to Black, contraception is “baby pesticide” and a “toxic method of eliminating a child” (even though contraception prevents abortions). In addition to saying abortion is worse than slavery, Black has compared abortion clinics to Nazi concentration camps. Without making such stark comparisons, Comstock drew comparisons between abortion, infanticide, and execution in a 2008 NBC interview.
2. Denying abortion even if it puts the mother at risk: Comstock answered simply that the Supreme Court Roe v. Wade should be overturned to deny abortions even if the mother’s health is threatened. She insisted that the woman be forced to carry to term, even if late-term pregnancy complications put lives in danger.
3. Allowing guns in bars: Comstock’s record on guns has earned her an “A” NRA rating. Her voting record on guns include allowing firearms inside bars that serve alcohol. The bill passed the legislature, making Virginia one of at least six states permitting loaded guns in some of the most dangerous circumstances.
4. Spousal rape and military rape is fine: Mother Jones pointed out that Black defended spousal rape, saying he “did not know how on earth you could validly get a conviction of a husband-wife rape, when they’re living together, sleeping in the same bed, she’s in a nightie, and so forth, there’s no injury, there’s no separation or anything.” After that comment, Black only clarified he was not “taking a position for or against marital rape.” Before that, Black — a former military prosecutor — dismissed rape in the military “as predictable as human nature.” “Think of yourself at 25,” he said. “Wouldn’t you love to have a group of 19-year-old girls under your control, day in, day out?”
5. Same-sex couples pose danger to the public In Virginia’s state Senate, Black promoted a slew of bills discriminating against gay men and women. On gay people serving in the military, Black has said “It’s a question of whether we will force soldiers to bond with homosexuals in the showers and the barracks, knowing that doing so will result in sexual bullying, male rape and forcible sodomy.” He has proposed a bill to ban same-sex couples from adopting children, using the reasoning that they are more likely to be violent and suicidal. He has attempted to ban same-sex couples from applying for public home loans. Black has even said public discussion of gay relationships puts children at risk of contracting HIV. Polgyamy, he says, is “more natural” than being gay.
The candidates are far to the right of where the district leans politically. Wolf held his seat for 17 terms, but the “increasingly purple” district is seen as competitive for either party. Though it went 50–49 for Mitt Romney in a state that voted for President Obama in 2012, the district was 51–48 for Obama in 2008.