The GW College Democrats and College Republicans are vying for a congressional win in the same Virginia district.
Ahead of the midterm elections next month, the two student organizations are canvassing in Virginia’s 10th Congressional District for candidates from their respective parties – incumbent Republican Barbara Comstock and Democrat Jennifer Wexton. Student leaders in each group said while canvassing is typical of their organizations before any election, they chose District 10 to be part of the momentum of a neck-and-neck race between the two candidates.
The 10th district includes towns like Clarke, McLean, Winchester and some portions of Fairfax and Prince William counties. College Democrats will campaign in McLean, Va. while College Republicans campaign about an hour away in Winchester, Va.
Tom Crean, the director for political affairs for the College Republicans who organized the group’s trip, said about 20 volunteers are expected to head to Winchester, Va. on Nov. 3 – three days before the election. He said small, suburban races can “make or break” the GOP’s success in the midterm elections.
“Over the past decade, Dems have solidified a political hold over metropolitan centers, and so for the GOP to win, we need to carry the rural and suburban areas,” Crean said in an email. “So demographically, these suburban districts represent the survival of the GOP.”
Cole Perry, the chairman of College Republicans, said the Republican National Committee is sponsoring the event and providing lunch and transportation for participants. Recent polls show that Republican candidates are not slated to win in states, like Virginia, that previously voted for Democrats in 2016, he said.
Perry said the organization also campaigned in the district in 2014 and 2016 and wants to ensure a Republican enters office again. The 10th district threw support behind both Comstock and Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, two years ago.
He said the two political organizations might have chosen to canvass in the same district because the district is relatively close to campus. College Republicans are also planning campaigning trips to Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania within the month, he said.
“Both parties have very good candidates, and both parties believe it’s winnable,” Perry said. “So we’ll have to see.”
Yunny Seo, the director of campaigns for College Democrats, said she’s “very hopeful” Democrats will win the district because the “heavy backlash against Trump” could prompt a blue wave in the currently Republican district.
“I think we’re seeing that Americans definitely want a change, and we’re seeing that shift come in,” Seo said.
Jackson Williams, the vice president for political affairs of the College Democrats, said the two groups may have “coincidentally ended up being passionate about the candidates running there.” He said about 65 members went to the 10th district Saturday for the group’s campaign trip.
“Because our students are seeing that this is a really watched district, it makes them more excited to be like, ‘oh, I’m not even from this district, but I want to go there and help support this candidate,’” he said. “Come Nov. 6, this election will be on CNN, or on Fox News, and it’s going to be discussed across the nation.”
The organization canvassed on behalf of NARAL Pro-Choice America, a nonprofit that opposes restrictions on abortion. While the College Democrats did not formally endorse Wexton, NARAL endorsed the candidate, so members attended in support of her and the organization, Williams said.
NARAL sponsored all of the group’s transportation and provided food, a free t-shirt and a crash course in canvassing before students knocked on doors, he said.
“We didn’t do endorsements this year – but we really do stand by Jennifer Wexton and her policies, specifically her pro-choice policies, because we feel like it’s really important to have a woman’s perspective when we’re setting laws around women’s health care,” Williams said.