Virginia Republicans Are Rallying Behind a True Bigot: Corey Stewart

Stewart won the GOP primary on Tuesday and will face Tim Kaine in November

Credit: Daniel Lin /Daily News-Record/AP

Move over Roy Moore: Republican voters have unleashed a new nightmare candidate on America. Corey Stewart nabbed the win Tuesday night to become the GOP's senate nominee in Virginia. Stewart has gained Republican followers in old-line Virginia by wrapping himself in the Confederate flag and by fiercely defending Confederate monuments – comparing those who would tear them down to Islamist radicals. He'll face incumbent Democrat and former vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine in November.

Here's what you need to know about Stewart:

Stewart is not a born-and-bred Southerner
These days Stewart parades as a stalwart defender of the Confederacy, but he was born in Duluth, Minnesota, and only settled in Virginia after finishing law school in St. Paul. He counts on passing as a native son, however, writing tweets like: "Nothing is worse than a Yankee telling a Southerner that his monuments don't matter."

He's Trumpier than Trump
Stewart served as Trump's 2016 campaign chairman in Virginia, but was fired by Steve Bannon for angering then-RNC chair Reince Priebus with an unsanctioned protest of the party's headquarters. Stewart is farther to the right than president on immigration, advocating for mass deportation of Dreamers: "Make Mexico Great Again!!" he tweeted in January. "Send Mexico back its #DACA citizens!"

He has his eyes set on a higher office
Chairman of the Board of Supervisors of Prince William County, Stewart ran just last year for governor of Virginia. He narrowly lost the GOP nomination to longtime GOP honcho Ed Gillespie, whom Stewart pilloried as "Establishment Ed."

He defends Confederate "heroes"
Stewart has campaigned on preserving Confederate statues: "No Robert E. Lee monument should come down," he's tweeted. "That man is a hero & an honorable man." He later added: "Politicians who are for destroying the monuments, statues and other artifacts of history are just like ISIS."

He supports the stars and bars
In 2017 Stewart campaigned in front of the Confederate flag at a "heritage" rally in Roanoke, insisting, "I'm proud to be here with this flag," he said of the slavers' battle flag. "It is not a symbol of racism."

He has been associated with white nationalists
Stewart attended a rally with far-right "white advocate" Jason Kessler to defend Charlottesville's confederate statues in February 2017. Kessler went on to organize the infamous "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville last August that turned deadly when counterprotester Heather Heyer was killed in a vehicular assault. Stewart has also praised Paul Nehlen – a self-styled "pro-White Christian American candidate" who staged a 2016 primary challenge of Speaker Paul Ryan in Wisconsin – as "one of my personal heroes." (Stewart has recently attempted to distance himself from these figures, claiming he was ignorant of their true views.)

He has promised a "vicious" campaign against Kaine
Stewart's win is probably a gift to the Democratic incumbent. Virginia is trending bluer and bluer with each election, and Stewart seems wildly out of step. As The Washington Post's Dave Weigel put it Tuesday night: "Stewart runs for office in Virginia as if there's been a mistake with the map and he's actually running in Oklahoma." Stewart is already pledging to go low, and he's giving Kaine a chance to prove that nice guys don't always finish last. "In a campaign between 'upbeat problem solver' and 'ruthless and vicious,' I am very confident that Virginians will go with the positive," Kaine told reporters. "They always do."