MAGA candidates were big winners on the June 12th primary, a continuing referendum from working, law-abiding Americans who want their elected representatives to put Americans First. Candidates who strayed from Trump’s agenda or spent more time attacking than working toward the President’s goals, they faced a reckoning. Mark Sanford of South Carolina was the most notable example.
Virginia’s US Senate GOP primary was also contentious and the most revealing about the populist trend redefining the Republican Party. It’s bad enough to have a left-wing Sandinista type like Tim Kaine serving as Virginia’s junior Senator. It’s worse that Virginia’s Republican party pundit seems more interested in accommodating rather than confronting the culture wars head on.
The Liberty Caucus/Koch Brothers/Establishment pick was state senator Nick Freitas. He gave a stirring speech on the floor of the Virginia State Senate which went viral. He has a solid but scant conservative voting record. Corey Stewart is the four-term Chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors. He represents a county which is majority-minority, the second-most populous compared to Fairfax County, which some have likened to Los Angeles County: congested, cosmopolitan, and heavily Democratic. Stewart not only pushed for his county to oppose illegal immigration, but to remove all illegal aliens from the region. He proudly implemented the 287(g) program to deputize county police to help with immigration enforcement.
Stewart has also been a committed conservative activist. He demanded the Virginia GOP leadership to resign following their terrible losses in 2017. He protested the Fairfax County Sheriff’s decision to end its 287(g) programs. He recently rallied and railed against Virginia General Assembly Republicans for voting for the Obamacare Medicaid Expansion! Oh, and he also ran Virginia’s Trump campaign.
Despite all this, the Virginia political establishment doesn’t like him.
Stewart’s sharpest critics included a Townhall.com contributor who connected him with an anti-Semite. This allegation stems from his former friendship with populist outsider Paul Nehlen, who ran a primary challenge against Speaker of the House Paul Ryan by going after the Trans-Pacific Partnership. During his second bid against Ryan, Nehlen’s comments veered from fiery populism to violence and anti-Semitism. Breitbart News and Corey Stewart disavowed the man. Case closed.
Critics also slam Stewart’s brief association (if any) with the Unite the Right Rally organizer in Charlottesville. Like Trump, Stewart has condemned white supremacy, including on the Left, and he denounced the violence which erupted on both sides, including Antifa. The media chose to ignore the violence on the Left. Nevertheless, Stewart has sparred valiantly against this bias many times, especially on CNN. Check out his victory lap on the segment, too.
Stewart’s opponents played the “alt-right” and the race card up until Primary Day, and Stewart carried the nomination. Yes, it was close, but Pastor E. W. Jackson took 12% of the vote, too. Pastor Jackson’s views are as conservative as Stewart’s, so one can surmise that they will gravitate toward Stewart in the general election.
The attacks from the media, left and right, against Corey Stewart sound a lot like Trump Derangement Syndrome. One Fox Newscaster at the outset described him as the guy who wanted to protect the Confederate statues throughout Virginia. Does this make Stewart that controversial? In 2017, Democrat Ralph Northam stopped campaigning against the removal of the statues, and even Ed Gillespie talked about preserving Virginia’s heritage.
Stewart is not a blackguard but the vanguard candidate which Virginia Republicans need to support. The state has gone from purple to blue since the mid-2000s. From the DC Swamp to the biased left-wing media, plus mass migration, Virginia is not the ruby-red paradise it used to be.
Instead of rejecting the GOP Establishment playbook of focusing on general income issues and running an “inclusive” campaign, Virginia’s “conservative” political class needs to confront the hard-left policies implemented by the growing Democratic cohort. Illegal immigration is ruining the Old Dominion, and a new class of Republicans like Stewart are tackling the issue head-on.
Is that a political playbook for failure?
Stewart’s primary victory includes precincts in Northern Virginia, which had been dragging the state down. He has voiced the concerns of middle-income families who have been feeling the economic pinch. He champions small businesses who are competing with illegal aliens–both workers and employers!– who don’t play by the rules. He openly embraces President Trump’s record and rhetoric. Like the President, Stewart is a fighter who will wage a “vicious campaign” to brand Tim Kaine as a corporate stiff, a Hillarybot who will sell the country to the lowest bidder. At his victory party, Stewart chanted with his campaign stalwarts: “Lock Her Up!”
The Establishment backed Freitas because he was not Corey, with a storied military career and the backing of diverse interest groups. He still lost, though, since Stewart had a strong political machine from his chairmanship on Trump campaign in 2016 and his failed gubernatorial bid the next year. But for some fake polls which suggested that he didn’t have a chance, Stewart would have been the nominee. He lost that race by only 1% point. He won the US Senate primary by the same margin. Poetic justice, perhaps.
Or not. The anti-Trump GOP establishment (The Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol, former Virginia Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling, among others) would rather lose than back their candidate. Should their arrogant diffidence worry the Stewart campaign or the GOP’s chances to defeat Tim Kaine? The same Beltway Bevy of newsstand conservatives rejected Trump—and he’s our President. Previous statewide candidates ignored illegal immigration (Cuccinnelli) or stayed away from the President (Ed Gillespie), and they lost. Who cares what “yesterday’s men” have to say?
Republican voters have rejected the corporatist, globalist Bush-Boehner brand of Republicanism. They want Trumplicanism, an America First political party which looks out for the little guy, the suburban family, the working-class blue-collar man, and the minority voters who want to enjoy the American Dream as Americans. Stewart supports those values, and Virginians should support, or prepare for the Old Dominion to become the Democratic Domination.
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.