Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) was a freshman lawmaker who had been sent to Washington with 73 percent of the vote, figuring he knew absolutely what people wanted from him. Over the past few weeks, though, it was becoming harder to tell. On social media after the health-care vote, people warned him his career was “going up in flames.” By the time he left Washington, where he slept on a mattress in his office and watched CNN every night, he was starting to think, “This Trump thing may not be sustainable”


Comer’s congressional district is a horseshoe across the southern part of the state, 6 ½ hours by car end-to-end, that is 90 percent white and where nearly 1 in 5 people live in poverty, more than 1 in 6 are disabled, and 72 percent voted for Trump. Maybe it was a rookie mistake, but Comer had pledged after the election to hold a town hall in every one of his 35 counties; to keep his word, he packed every recess with events — including the one he was driving to now, in Benton, Ky…

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COMER EDMONTON, KY - MAY 12: Congressman James Comer begins to talk at a town hall meeting on May 12, 2017 at the Metcalfe County Judicial Center in Edmonton, Kentucky. (Michael Noble, Jr. for The Washington Post)
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COMER EDMONTON, KY - MAY 12: Sheriff and Police Officers watch as Congressman James Comer speaks during a town hall meeting on May 12, 2017 at the Metcalfe County Judicial Center in Edmonton, Kentucky. (Michael Noble, Jr. for The Washington Post)
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COMER EDMONTON, KY - MAY 12: Congressman James Comer's belt shines while taking questions after a town hall meeting on May 12, 2017 at the Metcalfe County Judicial Center in Edmonton, Kentucky. (Michael Noble, Jr. for The Washington Post)
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COMER EDMONTON, KY - MAY 12: After a town hall meeting hosted by Congressman James Comer, he speaks with Tommy Garrett, right, of Edmonton on May 12, 2017 at the Metcalfe County Judicial Center in Edmonton, Kentucky. (Michael Noble, Jr. for The Washington Post)
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COMER CALHOUN, KY - MAY 12: Congressman James Comer waits to be introduced before a town hall meeting on May 12, 2017 at the McLean County Courthouse in Calhoun, Kentucky. (Michael Noble, Jr. for The Washington Post)
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COMER CALHOUN, KY - MAY 12: Congressman James Comer breaks up an argument between two town hall goers during an town hall meeting on May 12, 2017 at the McLean County Courthouse in Calhoun, Kentucky. The two were arguing about healthcare and insurance companies. (Michael Noble, Jr. for The Washington Post)
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COMER CALHOUN, KY - MAY 12: Ginger Fields of Calhoun cries while telling the story of her husband, Harry Field who died from exposure to agent orange while in the Navy during the Vietnam war during a town hall hosted by Congressman James Comer on May 12, 2017 at the McLean County Courthouse in Calhoun, Kentucky. (Michael Noble, Jr. for The Washington Post)
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COMER CALHOUN, KY - MAY 12: Congressman James Comer answers questions and concerns after a town hall on May 12, 2017 at the McLean County Courthouse in Calhoun, Kentucky. (Michael Noble, Jr. for The Washington Post)
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COMER CALHOUN, KY - MAY 12: Congressman James Comer leaves the McLean County Courthouse on May 12, 2017 after a town hall meeting in Calhoun, Kentucky. (Michael Noble, Jr. for The Washington Post)
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