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Here’s how Comstock beat Bennett in purple Northern Virginia (Opinion Column, Washington Post)


By Stephen J. Farnsworth and Stephen Hanna

Opinion Column, Washington Post, December 4, 2016

Rep. Barbara Comstock, reelected on Nov. 8 in the battleground communities of the District’s western Virginia suburbs, really knows the 10th Congressional District.

With roughly 70 percent of the district’s voters residing in Fairfax and Loudoun counties, the first-term incumbent had to walk a careful line during this year of Donald Trump. For most of the campaign, Comstock neither broke with the Republican nominee nor sang his praises, hoping to avoid losing the support of both potential swing voters and Trump loyalists.

Without considerable approval among those in each group, Comstock might not have won the district, which four years ago had split 50 percent for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and 49 percent for President Obama. With its decidedly purple hue, both Democrats and Republicans recognized Virginia’s 10th as an unusually vulnerable seat in the nation’s highly gerrymandered Congress, where nearly every district was drawn to be either safely Democratic or safely Republican.

Link to rest of column

Farnsworth Receives Virginia Outstanding Faculty Award

Stephen J. Farnsworth, professor of political science at International Affairs at University of Mary Washington and director of its Center for Leadership and Media Studies, is a recipient of a prestigious 2017 Outstanding Faculty Award from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV). This statewide teaching award recognizes 12 outstanding college and university professors from across the Commonwealth each year.

Link to news release

Farnsworth Wins Top Educator Award (Free Lance-Star)

Political science students at the University of Mary Washington are learning from the best of the best, according to the State Council of Higher Education of Virginia.

Stephen Farnsworth, University of Mary Washington professor of political science and director of the Center for Leadership and Media Studies, has received the 2017 Virginia Outstanding Faculty Award by SCHEV.

Farnsworth is one of 12 faculty members in Virginia to receive this year’s highest state honor for professors, and the third UMW professor to earn the award.

“Stephen Farnsworth demonstrates excellence in everything he does—here at UMW, throughout Virginia and the U.S., and in his significant global outreach efforts,” said UMW President Troy Paino in a press release.

Link to report

How Republicans unwittingly helped secure President Obama’s legacy (ThinkProgress.org)

Stephen Farnsworth, the director of the Center for Leadership and Media Studies at the University of Mary Washington, agrees. “The use of the term ‘Obamacare’ was part of the Republicans’ strategy to delegitimize the president,” he told ThinkProgress. It was a strategy pushed by Republican pollster Frank Luntz and others in the early days of the health care debate.

Running against Obamacare proved to be an effective strategy during the 2010 midterms as well. “‘Obamacare’ was a useful device to help elect Republicans,” said Farnsworth, who wrote the book Spinner in Chief: How Presidents Sell Their Policies and Themselves. “It served its purpose for Republicans. But it also served its purpose for Democrats.”

“Barack Obama was very wise to adapt the term ‘Obamacare’ as his own,” said Farnsworth. “It is a painful rule of politics: fight the framing with your own framing or you are going to lose the debate.”

Link to report

Predatory Loans in the Crossfire (Fairfax Connection)

In the week before the General Assembly session began, title lenders gave $35,000 in campaign contributions even though the campaign for General Assembly seats had ended the previous November. Like many businesses, title lenders make a habit of making campaign contributions after the election and before the session, during which they are prohibited from giving. The donations are not reported until after the session, so following the money isn’t really a possibly during the flurry of action in Richmond.

“They serve a very useful purpose for the business because it reminds people right at the start of the session who their friends are,” said Stephen Farnsworth, political science professor at the University of Mary Washington. “The coalition of people to block regulation may include some Democrats and some Republicans, and that’s why they are equal opportunity givers. Some money goes to Democrats and some goes to Republicans.”

Link to report