The conservative movement may be dead
-- but one of its key Washington lieutenants is launching a career in electoral politics.
Barbara Comstock, who ran oppo research for the RNC and chaired Scooter Libby's defense fund, is running for the Virginia House of Delegates, from the Washington DC suburbs, according to a website
set up by "Friends of Barbara Comstock".
A staffer at the Fairfax County GOP headquarters confirmed to TPMmuckraker that Comstock will challenge incumbent Democrat Margi Vanderhye.
Comstock's resume as a GOP knife-fighter is beyond impressive.
She served as a lead investigator
for the notoriously partisan House Government Reform committee during the 90s, chaired by GOP congressman Dan Burton.
In his 2002 book, Blinded By The Right
, David Brock painted a vivid picture of Comstock's obsessive zeal to bring down the Clintons:
Late night calls from Barbara Comstock were not unusual. She often telephoned with the latest tidbit she had dug up in the thousands and thousands of pages of administration records she pored through frantically as if she were looking for a winning lottery ticket she had somehow mislaid ... She once dropped by my house to watch the rerun of a dreadfully dull Whitewater hearing she had sat through all day. Comstock sat on the edge of her chair shaking, and screaming over and over again, "Liars!" As Constock's leads failed to pan out, and she was unable to catch anyone in a lie, the Republican aide confided that the Clinton scandals were driving her to distraction, to the unfortunate point that she was ignoring the needs of her own family. A very smart lawyer by training and the main breadwinner for her charismatic, happy-go-lucky husband and kids, Comstock remarked that maybe she couldn't get Hillary's sins off her brain because "Hillary reminds me of me. I am Hillary." In this admission, a vivid illustration of a much wider "Hillary" phenomenon can be seen. Comstock knew nothing about Hillary Clinton. Comstock's "Hillary" was imaginary, a construction composed entirely of the negative points in her own life.
Comstock may have mellowed a bit over the years, but her passion for trench warfare on behalf of the GOP never cooled.
During the 2000 election, she served as the head of the RNC's opposition research team, digging up dirt on Al Gore. "Al Gore kind of gave us the liar thing," she told The Atlantic
in 2004. "He had a problem with the truth, and that could be tied to bigger things and bigger issues."
While at the RNC, she became a "close associate"
of Monica Goodling, the Christian conservative lawyer and Muckraker favorite who later would help keep the Bush Justice Department stocked with good Republicans
Comstock herself also moved
to the Bush DOJ, in 2001, to run the department's public affairs operation -- doggedly stiffing reporters as they sought information on the administration's aggressive tactics in the War on Terror.
After leaving Justice, Comstock spent some time helping then-GOP Majority Leader Tom Delay play defense
on a host of ethics problems.
Next, Comstock helped run
Scooter Libby's legal defense fund, formed to help Libby fight charges that he illegally leaked the name of CIA agent Valerie Plame for political purposes.
Later that year, she was off to run damage control
for GOP Rep. Jerry Lewis, who was wrapped up in the Duke Cunningham scandal.
And months later, she teamed up with another GOP spin master, Mark Corallo, to form the crisis management firm Corallo Comstock Inc. The firm opened its doors just in time to help defend scandal-tarred Republicans facing scrutiny from the new Democratic administration. As Corallo put it
to Roll Call
: "Just in time for subpoena season."
Comstock didn't return a message left at her PR firm, seeking comment on her new career. But a reader reports seeing a volunteer passing out flyers promoting Comstock's statehouse run this morning at a special election site in Fairfax County, Virginia. So her campaign appears to be well underway.
Northern Virginia is turning blue at a rapid pace, so she should have her work cut out for her. But something tells us she'll be up for the challenge.