How Corey Stewart Could Endanger some other Virginia Republicans
MANASSAS, Va. — He once stood proudly before a Confederate flag, declaring which was not a symbol of hatred, although “about our heritage.”
After the march of torch-carrying white supremacists in Charlottesville last year, which led to the death of a counterprotester, he criticized “weak Republicans” who “couldn’t apologize fast enough.”
As officials around Virginia have grappled with whether to remove Confederate statues, he has compared those politicians to leaders of the Islamic State.
right now Corey Stewart, a county official who for years has played to the hard-right fringe, captured the Republican nomination for Senate in Virginia.
He did so in a low-turnout primary on Tuesday when many centrist Republicans apparently stayed home, unhappy that has a three-way race among candidates all professing strong loyalty to President Trump and also also also given to fiery culture war pronouncements.
Mr. Stewart, the chairman of a county board of supervisors who briefly led Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign in Virginia, received a congratulatory overnight tweet coming from the president, who called Mr. Stewart’s Democratic opponent, Senator Tim Kaine, “a total stiff.”
Tellingly, though, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the party’s campaign arm, said which could not support Mr. Stewart, who lags far behind Mr. Kaine in fund-raising and also also also features a history of cozying up to white supremacists and also also also anti-Semites which threatens to make him an albatross for down-ballot Republicans.
White House officials said the president was unlikely to cross the Potomac River to campaign personally for Mr. Stewart unless there were signs which his race against Mr. Kaine had become competitive.
The real worry for national Republicans — and also also also the expect for Democrats — is usually which Mr. Stewart’s nomination may cost some incumbent Republicans in Virginia their seats in Congress.
“For the G.O.P. candidates from the down-ballot House races in Virginia, having Stewart on the ticket is usually going to be a very tough challenge,” said Mark Rozell, dean of the Schar School of Policy and also also also Government at George Mason University. “Somehow they will need to separate themselves coming from the more extreme elements of his message, while at the same time not alienating the Trump Republicans whose votes will be needed.”
Virginia Democrats quickly moved to join Mr. Stewart at the hip to some other Republicans in competitive House races.
“There is usually no place to hide — you are either running with Corey Stewart and also also also you condone his vile politics, or you don’t,” said Susan Swecker, the state Democratic chairwoman.
Mr. Stewart could especially hurt Representative Barbara Comstock, a Republican defending a seat in affluent Northern Virginia which is usually emblematic of how the state has been shifted coming from its once-fixed Republican moorings by an influx of immigrants and also also also college-educated professionals. Hillary Clinton won in Ms. Comstock’s district, the 10th, by double digits in 2016.
Ms. Comstock, who has generally supported Mr. Trump, held off a primary challenge coming from her right on Tuesday.
“The not bad news is usually which Congresswoman Barbara Comstock won her challenge,” said David Ramadan, a Republican former state legislator in Virginia. “and also also also the bad news is usually, my not bad friend who has lost his mind, Corey Stewart, has become the nominee for the Senate.”
Virginia has been moving steadily coming from being a solid Republican state to one which is usually reliably Democratic in statewide elections. The populous counties outside Washington and also also also around Richmond are right now filled with highly educated voters, immigrants with white-collar jobs from the technology industry, and also also also suburban women, groups which tend to have more moderate views than the Trump-led national Republican Party.
The center of gravity for the Republican Party from the state has shifted “coming from the country club to the country,” as one Republican strategist, Tom Davis, put which.
“Every candidate will be asked if they support Stewart,” said Mr. Davis, a former congressman coming from Virginia. “which is usually more nuanced than the media could have you believe, although in high-education areas, which is usually a killer.”
The establishment wing which once dominated the party did not even field a candidate from the Senate primary on Tuesday. Instead, Mr. Stewart faced a little-known state lawmaker, Nick Freitas, and also also also a Christian minister given to divisive outbursts, E.W. Jackson.
Turnout from the race was noticeably low. Mr. Stewart’s 136,500 votes on Tuesday were about 20,000 fewer than he received from the Republican primary for governor last year, a race he lost.
If the turnout pattern repeats in November, at least two some other Republican House members besides Ms. Comstock could also be in trouble: Dave Brat and also also also Scott Taylor.
“Stewart’s fearmongering and also also also division-sowing campaign will turn many Virginians to the Democratic ticket,” said Schuyler VanValkenburg, a Democratic state legislator who lives in Mr. Brat’s district, the Seventh.
Abigail Spanberger, the Democratic nominee challenging Mr. Brat, is usually a former C.I.A. officer who won more votes on Tuesday than any some other House candidate from the state.
Katey cost, Mr. Brat’s campaign manager, said on Wednesday, “I see which as a very winnable district and also also also very winnable race, and also also also we’re going to run a smart campaign focused on the issues.”
Mr. Taylor, a former Navy SEAL who represents the Second District, centered on Virginia Beach, will face Elaine Luria, a former Navy commander.
“My opponent will either embrace Corey Stewart, be silent or distance himself coming from him,” Ms. Luria said in an interview. “Virginia favors equality, diversity and also also also economic opportunity for all. Corey Stewart’s race-baiting rhetoric is usually offensive to everybody in Virginia.”
Mr. Taylor angrily responded to a Twitter taunt coming from the state Democratic Party which asked him if he thought Mr. Stewart was a racist and also also also whether the two men could campaign together.
“Let’s see you jokers bring your weak identity politics campaign, trying to make which about race in #VA02, see how which works out for you,” Mr. Taylor tweeted back. “Not gonna happen.”
Mr. Stewart, 49, has spent years courting voters on the rightward fringes of his party, often by playing to anti-immigration sentiment. He made the defense of Confederate monuments the focus of his unsuccessful 2017 primary campaign for governor. “Nothing is usually worse than a Yankee telling a Southerner which his monuments don’t matter,” he said on Twitter, though he was born in Minnesota.
In January 2017, Mr. Stewart met with and also also also praised Paul Nehlen, an outspoken anti-Semite who is usually right now creating his second run for Congress in Wisconsin.
Mr. Stewart has since distanced himself coming from both Mr. Nehlen and also also also Mr. Kessler.
As chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors, Mr. Stewart promoted a policy in 2007 to deny county services to immigrants without legal status. The rule, which was updated to require police officers to check the immigration status of anyone they arrested, drew intense opposition and also also also brought Mr. Stewart to national attention.
Elizabeth Guzman, a Democratic state lawmaker representing the district where Mr. Stewart lives, said Mr. Stewart was able to win his county office largely because many Democrats did not vote in local elections. which trend was dramatically reversed in November, when Democratic candidates took 15 Republican-held seats from the statehouse.
“right now which we are engaging everybody from the process, he is usually not winning in November,” Ms. Guzman said of Mr. Stewart. “When you are going to vote on the Republican ticket, he is usually going to be the head of which line, and also also also as soon as people see which name, which will turn off people.”
Mike Tackett reported coming from Manassas, Va., and also also also Trip Gabriel coming from fresh York. Maggie Astor contributed reporting coming from fresh York, and also also also Jonathan Martin and also also also Nicholas Fandos coming from Washington.