Who? When? Huh?

“He is a Democrat looking to unseat Republican Barbara Comstock, a supporter of President Donald Trump, who was first elected in 2014.”

Problematic English and problematic history. Trump was elected in 2016. This writer must mean something different — along the lines of:

“He is a Democrat looking to unseat Republican Barbara Comstock, a supporter of President Donald Trump. Comstock was first elected in 2014.” (Two shorter sentences often prove to be clearer than one longer sentence.)

Or maybe:

“He is a Democrat looking to unseat Republican Barbara Comstock, elected in 2014, a supporter of President Donald Trump.” (A bit awkward, but passable.)

Or possibly:

“He is a Democrat looking to unseat Republican Barbara Comstock, a Trump supporter first elected in 2014.” (Not quite as respectful in referring to the President, but let’s not get into the issue of respectfulness and the current President.)

English is dangerous. Beware “who” in the middle of a sentence. You know “who” you mean, but does your reader? When you find you’ve planted a “who” in the middle of a sentence, look over its shoulder to see which “who” your “who” might seem to reference.

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