MANASSAS, Va. — Democrat John Foust's campaign boasts it has made 960,000 phone calls, knocked on 120,000 doors and registered 1,500 new voters in the quest for Virginia's open 10th District.
But on a crisp Saturday afternoon in Manassass, just 10 days before Election Day, Foust asked his volunteers for a few more hours of help — and he brought in Rep. Donna Edwards, D-Md., for some last-minute motivation.
"John has done everything right," Edwards told the crowd of about 40 volunteers packed into a Democratic Party of Virginia's campaign office, which was covered in signs for Foust and Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., who is also on the Nov. 4 ballot.
"He has raised the money, he has got the message and right now he's got the momentum because you're knocking on doors, and so I just want to thank you," added Edwards, who made the short trip to Foust's district with her arm in a sling after dislocating her shoulder the day before.
Foust, a tall, mustachioed and soft-spoken supervisor in Fairfax County, needs the last-minute help.
He faces GOP Del. Barbara Comstock in this district, which fans out from the heavily Democratic suburbs of Washington, D.C., to the more GOP-friendly towns near the West Virginia border.
Republican Rep. Frank R. Wolf has represented the district for 17 terms, winning by double digits despite its competitive composition. GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney carried the district by a 1-point margin in 2012, which made it a top Democratic target after Wolf announced his retirement in December .
But the midterm cycle presents a tough climate for Democrats. President Barack Obama's approval rating has plummeted, and Democrats face the challenge of turning out thousands of voters who typically stay home in the midterms.
Earlier this month, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee shifted money away from Virginia's 10th District to shore up vulnerable incumbents elsewhere. The move left Foust to hold his own on the airwaves in one of the country's most expensive media markets.
But Foust — who has poured more than $550,000 of his own personal wealth into the campaign — was upbeat at Saturday's get-out-the-vote training session with volunteers. Foust said he still sees a path to victory, crediting the campaign staffers who he said have worked tirelessly since April to help mobilize voters.
"Thank you, thank you, thank you — thank you for doing this," Foust told the group of volunteers as his wife, Marilyn Jerome, stuck stickers to their shirts. "Now we're at the critical point. I like to say both Barbara Comstock and I will have more than enough supporters to win this election, there's no question about that. But because it's a low turnout election ... the one who is going to win is the one who has the ground game, and I know we have the ground game."
Comstock's campaign said they have been working their field operation too.
"We're out there every day knocking doors, reaching voters in all corners of the district and have reached hundreds of thousands of voters," Johanna Persing, a spokesperson for Comstock's campaign, wrote in an email. "We have the momentum heading into the final week, and our strong ground game and GOTV effort will be instrumental to victory on Nov. 4."
It's possible Warner's re-election on top of the Virginia ticket could help Foust win. Warner is one of a few Senate Democrats up for re-election this cycle who faces an easy path to victory. And a large chunk of Warner's support comes from the 10th District.
Dave Martin, a fourth-grade teacher at Lake Ridge Elementary School in Woodbridge, Va., who has been out knocking doors for Foust, said he tells voters Foust would help Warner get things done for Virginia.
"I spoke to a lady this morning who said, 'I only vote in presidential elections,' and I informed her that every election is important," Martin said. "I informed her of John Foust's pro-education policies, Mark Warner's pro-education background — he was a wonderful pro-education governor in Virginia — and he's doing a lot right now to alleviate the student loan crisis ... and that just sold her. That's just an issue that's important to so many people."
The race is rated Leans Republican by the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.
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