The U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday endorsed 10th Congressional District candidate Barbara Comstock (R) during an event at one Ashburn beefy data centers.
Comstock’s supporters gathered amid walls of computer equipment within Dupont Fabros Technology (DFT) data center near the Ashburn Ice House for the announcement.
“I’m proud to be in Virginia and give our endorsement to Barbara Comstock,” said Rob Engstrom, senior vice president of Political Affairs & Federal Relations for the chamber as well as National Political Director. He called Comstock’s Democratic opponent a “tax-and-spend liberal” who’s “a rubberstamp for Nancy Pelosi” and President Barack Obama.
While the announcement came as little surprise – the U.S. Chamber’s political donations typically go to Republicans or to fight Democrats – it offered the opportunity to put a spotlight on one of the district’s greatest assets: it’s place within the online world as the Data Center Alley of the East Coast.
“After Silicon Valley, this is likely the most fiber-rich soil in the country,” said Lammot J. du Pont, director and chairman of the board for DFT.
Du Pont pointed out the difficulty of getting people to grasp what data centers in this area do with an anecdote about his daughter. Words like multiple-client, ultra-redundant and secure were simply not getting the point across when explaining to his daughter what his company does. He then referenced DFT client Facebook and pointed out its reliability. The point was suddenly clear.
Comstock was credited for helping persuade DFT to continue its work in Ashburn rather than elsewhere.
At the federal level, Comstock said benefits for technology companies who perform research and development could and should continue, without relying on congress’ annual approval.
“There’s no reason why we can’t have a permanent R&D tax credit,” she said.
Besides the U.S. Chamber’s Engstrom, a representative for the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) spoke during the event. NAM does not offer political endorsements, but does provide voter education. And the words of NAM’s Jay Timmons were tantamount to an endorsement at least from himself.
“I know Barbara Comstock. I’m here for a reason: Barbara Comstock is a leader that this country needs,” Timmons said referencing the “dysfunction” in congress. “She’ll be effective because she’s willing to talk to others, not only in her own party, but across party lines.”
For a candidate hoping to work together, the Republican and her supporters were quite critical of the Democratic leadership, particularly House minority leader Nancy Pelosi and President Obama.
On issues including unemployment and a significant increase in food stamp distribution, Comstock said the Obama administration was failing the country.
“It’s not who we are. It’s not what we’re capable of,” she said, calling free enterprise and limited regulation the way to prosperity.
Republicans currently hold the majority in the House, and it’s unclear how Comstock taking over Republican Frank Wolf’s seat would change the dynamics. She referred to Wolf as her mentor.
Regardless, she said she appreciated an item on a recent questionnaire asking if the United State had already seen its best days.
“America’s best days are still ahead,” she said, shunning a pessimistic view. “That is certainly why I’m running.”