Virginia Democrats are counting on controversial GOP Senate candidate Corey Stewart to help them beat out down-ballot Republicans in the November midterm elections, according to a New York Times report.
Stewart, the 49-year-old chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors, barely snagged the Republican nomination last week in the election primary that saw low voter turnout. Just over 304,000 voters showed up at the polls last week, where Stewart squeaked out a victory with 44.86 percent against Nick Freitas, a lesser-known state lawmaker, and E.W. Jackson, a black minister.
Stewart has promised a vicious battle against his challenger, incumbent Sen. Tim Kaine (D).
Democrats wasted no time connecting Stewart to other Republican candidates across the state.
“There is no place to hide — you are either running with Corey Stewart and you condone his vile politics, or you don’t,” state Democratic Chairwoman Susan Swecker said.
Does Stewart have Republican support?
President Donald Trump tweeted his support for Stewart after his primary win, but it's unlikely that the president would personally campaign for Stewart, White House officials said, according to the Times.
Republican David Ramadan, a former Virginia state legislator, called Stewart's nomination "bad news."
“The good news is that Congresswoman Barbara Comstock [a Republican] won her [primary] challenge,” Ramadan told the newspaper. “And the bad news is, my good friend who has lost his mind, Corey Stewart, has become the nominee for the Senate.”
Following Stewart's win, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the party’s Senate campaign arm, as well as the Koch brothers main political arm, Americans for Prosperity, quickly announced they would not support Stewart's campaign.
What do political experts say?
The dean of the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University, Mark Rozell, told the Times that Republican candidates need to distance themselves from Stewart.
“For the GOP candidates in the down-ballot House races in Virginia, having Stewart on the ticket is going to be a very tough challenge,” Rozell told the Times. “Somehow they will need to separate themselves from the more extreme elements of his message, while at the same time not alienating the Trump Republicans whose votes will be needed.”
What do Democrats say?
Virginia state legislator Schuyler VanValkenburg (D), who lives in GOP Rep. Dave Brat’s district, believes Stewart will push voters toward liberal candidates.
“Stewart’s fearmongering and division-sowing campaign will turn many Virginians to the Democratic ticket,” VanValkenburg said, according to the Times.
Stewart, who calls himself a Trump supporter, has found some support for his crackdown on illegal immigration in his county, but his connections to anti-Semitic Paul Nehlen and white nationalist Jason Kessler have cost him support from fellow Republicans.
He will lay out his plan for Virginia during a speech at the Virginia Women for Trump's "Tea for Trump" Sunday afternoon at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., according to a news release.
It will be his first speech since winning the Republican nomination.