By Jason Spencer
Incumbent Republican state Del. Barbara Comstock and Democratic challenger Kathleen Murphy met last week at the McLean Community Center's Alden Theatre to trade barbs under the veneer of civility during an hour-long forum.
The two are on the ballot Tuesday in a race to represent the 34th District, which includes parts of Vienna, in Virginia's House of Delegates.
Responding to questions selected from audience submissions, the two talked about guns, abortion, transportation, education, taxes and ethics reform.
Comstock, first elected to the House of Delegates in 2009, was the candidate with a record and so had the job of defending it.
"You can't say that you have supported 1,700 more slots in your schools and then vote against the funding that provides it. You cannot say you are for transportation solutions … and then vote against the funding that provides it," Murphy said to the crowd in her closing remarks shortly after 10 p.m.
"I will stand up for you. I will vote for you. And I am running because we have a delegate who is great at meetings and great at photo ops and great at organization, but she votes against us when she goes to Richmond. And I think that needs to change."
Comstock listed numerous endorsements she's collected, particularly from business groups, and said that even people who had supported this year's transportation compromise, which she voted against, had endorsed her because of her ability to work with others to get things done.
"My opponent is singly focused on divisive social issues. … She demonizes anyone who disagrees with her on these issues," Comstock said. "I've worked in the Virginia way while my opponent is still bogged down in Washington, D.C., bickering."
The crowd was quite feisty at times, with WUSA News Anchor Peggy Fox, who served as the night's moderator, at one point calling out a woman for "hissing" during one of Comstock's answers. Fox also had to preface a question on gun control/gun rights with, "Please … Let's everyone be adult."
The forum featured candidates in four races and was presented by the McLean Citizens Association and the Greater McLean Chamber of Commerce.