I have been familiar with Corey Stewart for well over a decade. He has served as chairman of the Prince William County, VA Board of Supervisors since 2006. Immediately upon taking office, he led a crackdown on illegal immigration, against the protests of the Republican Party Establishment at the time. Despite the county becoming increasingly Democratic, Stewart has won re-election three times by healthy margins.
In 2013, Stewart ran for the nominee for Lt. Governor, but ended up losing the nomination to E.W. Jackson, a black pastor who took a hard line on social conservative issues. Jackson was destroyed in the general election. (I wrote about this race at the time—Patriotic Immigration Reform, Not Social Issues, Will Win In Virginia, July 30, 2013). Stewart became an early supporter of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, helping engineer his victory in the Virginia primary.
Stewart had been eying the Governor’s race and announced his campaign in April of 2016. After Trump secured the nomination, many of the Establishment Republicans within the state party began to try to push Stewart out of the presidential campaign, often accusing him of putting his own ambitions for Governor ahead of Trump. Stewart, of course, was one of Trump’s most vocal and loyal supporters. When the bulk of the Party tried to force Trump out after the Access Hollywood controversy, Stewart led a pro-Trump rally on the RNC. [First on Fox 5: Corey Stewart says protest was not about him; will continue to support Trump, Fox5DC, October 11, 2016] This got him fired from the campaign for insubordination, but Stewart continued to campaign for Trump.
In Virginia, Stewart ran as much of a “National Conservative” campaign as patriots could hope for. He focused on immigration—running against “Establishment Ed” Gillespie’s past support for Amnesty, and work as a lobbyist for Tyson’s Chicken, which made him “complicit in smuggling illegal aliens into this country” [Stewart blasts Gillespie’s work for Tyson Foods, by Laura Vozzella, Washington Post, May 30, 2017]. Stewart went as far as calling Gillespie a “cuckservative” [GOP Gov. Candidate Slammed for Calling Opponent 'Cuckservative', Fox News, March 27, 2017].
Then, as Charlottesville, Alexandria, and other localities tried to take down Confederate Monuments and rename streets, Stewart—a native of Minnesota—made Southern Heritage a centerpiece of his campaign. Having learned his lesson from 2013, Stewart took conventional conservative positions on abortion, low taxes, regulations, and gun control. But Heritage, immigration, and his loyalty to Trump were the centerpiece of his campaign.
With virtually no Republican willing to vocally defend Confederate Heritage, hard right and Alt Right activists were the only ones besides Stewart willing to stand up. When there were some tangential contacts established between him and these activists, the entire GOP Establishment demanded he disavow them.
Most politicians would have run for the hills. But Stewart’s brilliant response was to hold a press conference. He was expected to announce his withdrawal from the race, but instead he said:
There have been a lot of politicians denouncing things this weekend. And I would like to denounce a few things myself. I denounce fake news, like the Washington Post, who lie to Virginians and use Political Correctness as a weapon to shame, ridicule and silence Americans.From there, Stewart went on to denounce his Establishment and pro-Amnesty opponent Ed Gillespie.
Then, after all this, Stewart said “I denounce bigotry and bigots”—but instead of attacking the Alt RIght, he continued “like Charlottesville City Councilman Wes Bellamy, who foment racial hatred,” referring to the black Democrat who had joked about raping white women. [A defiant Corey Stewart goes on denouncing spree, but avoids criticizing white nationalist rally, By Grahham Moomaw, Richmond Times Dispatch, May 15, 2017]
The text of Stewart’s remarkable statement, which will presumably disappear when his campaign website is taken down:
I am Corey Stewart, Republican candidate for Governor of Virginia in the Republican Primary election on June 13.Stewart had learned, perhaps from Trump, that going on the defensive would doom his campaign
There have been a lot of politicians denouncing things this weekend. And I would like to denounce a few things myself.
I denounce weak establishment Republicans, like Ed Gillespie, who refuse to stand up for life, our 2nd Amendment and other constitutional rights, our heritage, and our President.
I denounce greedy corporate monopolies, like Dominion Virginia Power, who destroy neighborhoods and trample on our property rights.
I denounce Terry McAuliffe, who sits on his hands while working Virginians of all races, in all parts of Virginia, struggle as thousands of jobs leave our Commonwealth.
I denounce bigotry and bigots, like Charlottesville City Councilman Wes Bellamy, who foment racial hatred.
I denounce hypocrites, like Ralph Northam and Tom Perriello, who refuse to acknowledge the long history of racism within the Democratic Party and denounce racist Democrats like Wes Bellamy.
It's time to stop apologizing. It's time to stop running away. It's time to stand up for Virginia.
I love Virginia. I admire its people. I respect its industry. I marvel at its beauty. And I treasure its history and heritage. All these things I pledge to protect, using every power available to me as Governor of Virginia. And I will never back down! Let's take back Virginia on June 13. God bless you and your families.
Let's take back Virginia!
The conventional wisdom held that sympathizing with the vandalized Confederate symbols would harm Stewart [see, e.g. Corey Stewart's Lost Cause, by Kevin Robillard, Politico, May 15, 2017]. But instead it undoubtedly invigorated his campaign.
VDARE.com does not support or endorse candidates, but after the fact, I can say I personally was actively supporting Stewart. The real tragedy is that far too many people on what could vaguely be called the Trump/America First Right sat out the election. Groups like Eagle Forum, publications like Breitbart and Daily Caller, and personalities like Laura Ingraham and Ann Coulter gave little to no attention to Stewart. I think it’s safe bet that had they rallied behind him, or had he not been fired from the Trump campaign, Stewart would have easily won the primary.
I am not mentioning this to point fingers. I myself gravely underestimated Stewart’s chances Many people who sat out expressed their regret to me in the days after the election. If and when Corey Stewart runs for Senate in 2018, he will likely find a much broader support.
In contrast, the Establishment Republicans and “True Con” activists did not learn their lesson. In my day job, I interact with a variety these consultants and activists. Every single one insisted that immigration and Southern Heritage had nothing to do with Stewart’s strong showing. Instead, they insisted that Gillespie’s mistake was not appealing to Conservative Inc. Multiple people told me that Stewart signing Grover Norquist’s Tax Cut Pledge, which Gillespie declined to do, was a bigger factor than immigration or Southern Heritage!
I predict Gillespie will run away from the National Question issues in the general election—and lose to Democratic nominee Ralph Northam.
The consultants still won’t learn their lesson.
And Stewart will have an even bigger opening in 2018.
Washington Watcher [email him] is an anonymous source Inside The Beltway.