Stewart enters race just a month after losing race for governor
♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com editor
WOODBRIDGE, Virginia (CFP) — Just a month after narrowly losing a Republican primary for Virginia governor, Corey Stewart started a new race against U.S. Senator Tim Kaine with an unapologetic vow to “run the most vicious, ruthless campaign” he can to unseat the Democratic incumbent.
“I’m going to go after him very, very hard,” said Stewart, who gained national prominence while serving as President Trump’s Virginia state chairman during the 2016 presidential campaign. “I think that Republicans have been playing by the Marquess of Queensberry rules for too long, and Democrats have been fighting a UFC fight.”
In his opening campaign salvo at his home in suburban Washington, D.C. on July 13, Stewart also made it clear that he would wrap himself in the Trump mantle in the Senate race, as he did in his unsuccessful race for governor.
“Tim Kaine is doing everything in his power to stop the president of the United States from making the economy great again, from bringing back jobs, from reforming health care and from making America great again,” he said, accusing Kaine of having a “blind hatred” for Trump that makes him “so focused on taking down the president of the United States that he is ignoring the true needs of Virginians and other Americans.”
However, Stewart didn’t stop with attacking Democrats. He began his announcement by saying how “disgusted” he had been by the 1989 inaugural address of President George H.W. Bush, a pillar of the GOP establishment.
“I was disgusted at the phrase kinder, gentler nation,” he said. “I knew right then that it was the end of the Reagan revolution.”
Stewart, 48, has been chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors since 2006. He was Trump’s state chairman in Virginia until a month before the 2016 election, when he was sacked after organizing a protest outside of Republican National Committee headquarters demanding that the GOP hierarchy not abandon Trump in the wake of the release of an audiotape in which Trump made lewd sexual comments.
In the June 13 GOP gubernatorial primary, Stewart nearly defeated former RNC chairman Ed Gillespie, a one-time aide to President George W. Bush who had been seen as a presumptive favorite. Stewart said his surprisingly strong showing in that race, which he lost by only 4,500 votes, was part of the reason he decided to set his sights on unseating Kaine.
In the governor’s race, Stewart ran as an anti-establishment candidate and vowed to resist efforts to remove monuments honoring the Confederacy. He is not, however, a native Southerner, having been born in Minnesota.
Running as a Trump champion could be problematic in Virginia, which was the only Southern state Hillary Clinton carried in 2016.
Kaine — Clinton’s vice presidential running mate — also has a venerable political pedigree in the Old Dominion, having served as governor and lieutenant governor before being elected to the Senate in 2012. And no Republican has won a Senate race in the commonwealth since 2002.
Stewart’s vow of viciousness at the starting line drew a rebuke from Susan Swecker, chair of the Virginia Democratic Party, who called him “more extreme than Donald Trump.”
“Corey has completely ignored the needs of families in Prince William County to instead spend his time name calling, bashing immigrants and re-litigating the Civil War,” she said in a statement. “When he rarely turns his attention to the county he was elected to represent, he calls his colleagues ‘slimeballs’ and pushes an anti-immigrant, backwards agenda that has left working families behind.”
“The last thing Virginians need in the Senate is a rubber stamp for President Trump,” she said.
And before he gets to Kaine, Stewart will likely have to face down a primary challenge. Among the Republicans considering the race is Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard executive who sought the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.
Fiorina ran for the U.S. Senate in California in 2010 but later relocated to Virginia, where she had lived earlier in her business career.