Virginia state delegate Barbara Comstock will declare her candidacy for the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday morning, her campaign told the Washington Free Beacon on Monday.
Comstock, a Republican, is currently serving her third term in the Virginia House of Delegates, representing portions of Loudon and Fairfax counties. She prevailed by a thin margin last year against Democratic challenger Kathleen Murphy.
Sitting Rep. Frank Wolf (R., Va.) announced his retirement in December, leaving open a competitive seat in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. Comstock is a former aide to Wolf, and her district as a delegate overlaps with Wolf’s tenth congressional district.
"I am running for Congress because I believe my strong record as a common sense conservative leader is what is needed in Congress," Comstock wrote in a statement.
"I know how to effectively fight for Northern Virginia's hard working taxpayers having first learned from Congressman Wolf working in his congressional office."
The 10th district narrowly voted for Mitt Romney over President Barack Obama in 2012, but many Democrats see it as a prime target. Comstock will tell supporters in a fundraising email, obtained exclusively by the Free Beacon, that it "is expected to be one of the most expensive open congressional seats in the country."
The Rothenberg Political Report shifted the district from "safe Republican" to "lean Republican" after Wolf announced his retirement, but Comstock touted her ability to win even among Democratic-leaning electorate.
"I have won THREE races in one of the most competitive areas of the 10th District and our trademark has been that we have never been outworked," she said.
While Comstock’s latest reelection effort was close, she significantly outperformed Republican statewide candidates, who were crushed in wealthy liberal enclaves outside of Washington.
Comstock has already staked out several conservative positions, pledging to support efforts to "repeal and replace ObamaCare with patient centered healthcare reforms," reform the tax code, and "preserve our defense and national security infrastructure as well as the salaries and retirement of our dedicated military."
Supporters cited policy strengths as well as political savvy in throwing their weight behind Comstock.
"Whether it's working to bring new technology jobs, fighting human trafficking, or standing up to labor union bosses, she has proven herself as a capable problem-solver who gets things done. I know she'll do the same in Washington," said Speaker of the House of Delegates Bill Howell, who is supporting Comstock’s bid.
She has picked up early support from other prominent Virginia conservatives, including Morton Blackwell, a veteran of Republican politics, a national party committeeman for Virginia, and the president of the Leadership Institute, and former U.S. Sen. George Allen and his wife Susan.
"There are other people who have been talking about announcing," Blackwell said in an interview. "A number of them are fine conservatives and very good friends of mine. But as soon as I heard that Frank Wolf was not running for reelection, my first action was to call Barbara."
"I will support strongly whoever gets the nomination," Blackwell said. However, "Barbara is extraordinarily competent and can put together an excellent campaign, and I think she will win."
Allen, who lost a bid for a U.S. Senate seat in Virginia in 2012, after serving from 2001 to 2006, cited Comstock’s ability to "unite all the different wings of our party."
Allen said he and his wife had seen a "groundswell of support" for Comstock, even prior to her official announcement.
U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner (R., Mo.) is also supporting Comstock. Wagner has worked in Congress and in posts in national and state Republican parties to elect more female Republicans and to improve GOP outreach to women.
Wagner "is going to work relentlessly to support her and to grow the female majority in Congress," a spokesman told the Free Beacon.
"She has proven she can appeal to independents and Democrats and win in an increasingly Democratic area. She has been a leader on issues important to women. I think these two factors make her a really strong candidate, probably the favorite to win," Howell added.
The only other Republican candidate to enter the VA-10 race so far is notorious White House "party-crasher" Tareq Salahi. Salahi was a write-in candidate for Virginia governor in 2013. State Sen. Dick Black has also announced an exploratory committee for a possible bid for the Republican ticket.