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VA-Sen: Controversial Trump supporter leads in GOP primary battle, according to internal poll

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Corey Stewart released areleased an internal poll that showed him in a substantial lead against lesser-known challengers Nick Freitas and E.W. Jackson. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

With less than three weeks left until the GOP Senate primary, firebrand Corey Stewart released an internal poll that showed him with a substantial lead against  lesser-known challengers Nick Freitas and E.W. Jackson in the Virginia race to take on Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine.

The survey showed Stewart leading Freitas 32-10 among Republicans who said they would vote in the June 12 primary. Jackson would come in third with 5 percent of the vote if the election were held today, according to results from Atlantic Media and Research.

The group polled 355 Republicans who voted in the last three primaries with a 5.2 percent margin of error. The survey was held May 14-18.

According to the survey, Freitas hasn't gained much traction in recent weeks despite endorsements from popular Republican lawmakers including Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.), Virginia House Majority Leader Todd Gilbert, and Virginia House Delegate Nick Rush, along with many others.

All three candidates are pro-life, support the Second Amendment, and support President Donald Trump's call for a border wall.

Where does Freitas stand on issues?

Freitas, a conservative Christian and veteran who served two combat tours in the Middle East, is director of operations for a service-disabled, veteran-owned defense contractor.

The National Rifle Association endorsed him as the only GOP candidate with an A+ rating for “excellent voting record on all critical NRA issues,” combined with a display of “vigorous effort to promote and defend the Second Amendment," according to a statement by the NRA.

At 39, Freitas is the youngest of the three primary candidates and is currently serving his second term as a member of Virginia's House of Delegates.

Freitas believes in limited government and wants transparency and frugality when it comes to budgets.

He wants education reform that would give parents more freedom in determining their children's needs, as well as allowing teachers more freedom in teaching, and he wants to keep Common Core out of Virginia education.

“We don’t see people as a mindless cog in some sort of state-run program,” Freitas said. “We see people as beautifully and wonderfully created with a purpose to serve in this life, and government’s job is to protect their liberty, their property, provide equal justice before the law so they can achieve their purpose," Freitas told the Washington Post in March following a debate with Stewart in March.

He and his wife, Tina, live in Culpepper, along with their three children.

Where does Jackson stand on issues?

Jackson, the only black candidate in the primary, is a lawyer and a minister from Chesapeake who wants to protect religious liberty and strengthen the military.

The Vietnam-era veteran opposes bans on so-called "assault weapons" and "high-capacity magazines."

Jackson accused Stewart of having "dealings" with Muslim Brotherhood members when he kicked-off his candidacy last year. Stewart, who has relationships with Muslim community members, is chair of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, which approved the building of a mosque last year, according to the Post.

He pledged to support Supreme Court nominees who uphold the Constitution and share the vision of the country's Founders.

On Wednesday, he made his pitch for the Senate nomination before the Arlington County Republican Committee, where he stated his support for Trump.

“He [Trump] is a blessing to this entire country. He has not disappointed me. His policies and approach are the right ones – focus on the substance of what he’s trying to do,” Jackson said.

He also aims to end the cycle of poverty for families and promote parent-driven, child-centered education.

While the 66-year-old candidate is more than a long shot at this point, he has received endorsements from former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Rafael Cruz, father of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

"He is a man of deep faith and abiding love for his country. He will make an outstanding United States senator and make the people of Virginia proud," Huckabee said in his letter of endorsement, adding that Jackson "is Tim Kaine's worst nightmare."

Jackson and his wife, Theodora, have been married 47 years and have three children.

Where does Stewart stand on the issues?

Stewart, a trade lawyer, has lost two statewide elections, including a run for governor in 2017.

The 49-year-old candidate wants to focus on jobs and reducing corporate taxes, as well as continue the fight against illegal immigration.

He said he will fight to repeal and replace Obamacare, expand health savings accounts, and work on legislation that would allow people to purchase insurance across state lines.

Stewart may be leading in the polls but there's plenty of controversy surrounding him that could lead voters to change their minds at the polling booth.

Stewart said he supports Trump's "America first" agenda, and he even served as Virginia's state co-chairman for then-presidential candidate Trump during the 2016 campaign.

Until he was fired.

Less than a month before the 2016 election, Stewart was removed after he participated in a protest in front of the Republican National Committee headquarters that was aimed at warning the national party not to abandon Trump during his bid for the White House, the Post reported.

“Former Virginia State Chairman Corey Stewart is no longer affiliated with the Donald J. Trump for President campaign,” Trump’s deputy campaign manager, David Bossie, said in a statement at the time. “He is being replaced, effective immediately. Corey made this decision when he staged a stunt in front of the RNC without the knowledge or the approval of the Trump campaign.”

Stewart claimed Bossie warned him to stop the rally via text message.

“He threatened me,” Stewart said. “I let everybody know he was threatening me. They said ‘there are going to be dire consequences’ unless I shut down the rally.”

Stewart and his wife, Maria, have been married 22 years. They live in Woodbridge with their two sons.

What else?

The Cook Political Report, Inside Elections, and Sabato's Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia Center for Politics all predict Kaine will win re-election.

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