FAIRFAX COUNTY, VA (WUSA9) - Concern about the Trump Affect on congressional races is running high in Northern Virginia.
Republican Congressman Barbara Comstock is walking a razor's edge, distancing herself from Trump but being careful not to bad-mouth him.
Comstock says there are two flawed candidates running for president, but says she's the only candidate in her race willing to stand up against the top ticket candidate. But she never mentioned Donald Trump's name and would not repeat her call for him to drop out of the race.
The race between democratic challenger LuAnn Bennett, a business woman who's never run for public before, and Republican Congresswoman Barbara Comstock is now a toss up.
After the Washington Post broke the bus video story of Trump bragging about sexually assaulting women, Comstock told the Post that "Donald Trump should "step aside and allow our party to replace him with Mike Pence or another appropriate nominee form the Republican Party."
But she has not reiterated or changed that statement.
"He's a drag on her candidacy. No doubt it," said Mark Rozell, Dean of George Mason University Schar School of Policy and Government.
In battleground areas like Comstock's 10th District which runs from the more liberal McLean in Fairfax County to the more conservative Winchester, the "Trump Factor" is a no-win situation for republicans, says Rozell.
"If they disown Donald Trump, they alienate some of their Republican Party base supporting him and if they don't disown him, they have to own all the baggage that goes along with that. So it's a total lose-lose," said Rozell.
During the candidates' final debate sponsored by the Northern Virginia Chamber held in Tysons, Bennett tried to tie Trump to Comstock in immigration and climate change.
"The fact that he is the person leading Republican Party says, speaks volumes for where our Republican Party is today," said Bennett.
After the debate, Comstock agreed to take reporters questions but did not answer this reporter's question, "Are you still calling for Mr. Trump to step down like you did last weekend?"
"Well, I've made my statement there," said Comstock.
"That tells you she's uncomfortable with the question, quite frankly, because she made it clear she was distancing herself from Donald Trump and to be very cautious about it right now tells me that she's gotten some blow-back from hard-care Republican Trump supporters and so she doesn't want to keep pushing that theme. She said it once and she wants to leave it alone and see if that issue can go away at this point," said Rozell.
Comstock says she's the only one in her race that's willing to stand up to her party, not only in this case, but others. She also said you're not going to hear that from her opponent about Hillary Clinton.