Senate Republicans Already Distancing Themselves From Corey Stewart

Corey Stewart may be the darling of the Trumpidians in the GOP, but he won't be getting any help from Senate Republicans.

Just one day after he won the primary to face Senator Tim Kaine in November, Corey Stewart is finding that he may not have a united party behind him:

President Donald Trump may be excited about Corey Stewart’s primary win in the Virginia Senate race, but Senate Republicans certainly aren’t.

The Senate GOP’s campaign arm hasn’t endorsed Stewart, who has made defending Confederate monuments a central plank of his political career. And its chairman said that the committee has “no plans” to spend any money on Stewart in his race against Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.).

“At the senatorial committee we’re focusing on Missouri, Indiana, North Dakota, Montana, West Virginia and Florida. There are great races around the country. [Virginia] is not the map,” said National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Cory Gardner (R-Colo.). “We have a big map this year, and what I’ve laid out in races that I’ve talked about, Virginia’s not on it.”

“Sometimes in the primary process, the thing we try and get done is get the most electable candidate on the ballot in the fall. And that doesn’t always happen,” conceded Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), the No. 3 GOP leader.

And Thune, like other Republicans expressed ignorance of Stewart despite his affinity for earning press with stunts like protesting outside the RNC in 2016, which got him ousted from Trump’s official campaign apparatus. Stewart also drew criticism for refusing to condemn white nationalists after last year’s violent rally in Charlottesville.

Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), said he has “no idea who he is. Not at all.”

And Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas, a two-time NRSC chair, couldn’t say whether he will endorse Stewart because he doesn’t know him.

“I’ve just heard a few things about him,” Cornyn said. “I just don’t know anything about him.”

The feeling is mutual. Stewart held a press conference outside the NRSC in May to rail against party leaders for not supporting his campaign.

(…)

GOP leaders had hoped to block Stewart, making a late play to boost state Del. Nick Freitas, who narrowly lost to Stewart on Tuesday evening. Republicans said privately it’s a huge blow to the Virginia GOP’s down-ticket races, particularly in competitive House races, even if they never saw a serious path to defeating Kaine.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who did events and campaign work for Freitas, said he was “disappointed” in the result and refused to say he will support Stewart. He said the race is now up to the “people of Virginia.”

“I guess I didn’t do enough. But it was really close,” Paul said of Freitas. “He would have been great to the party because he’d bring new people into the party.

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) said supporting Kaine over Stewart “has crossed my mind.”

“I don’t think he has a prayer,” Flake said. “I won’t be doing anything for Stewart, I’ll put it that way.”

While Senate Republicans are distancing themselves from Stewart, President Trump is congratulating him on his win:

The fact that Trump is an enthusiastic supporter of Stewart’s is hardly a surprise. In 2016, Stewart served as the statewide Chairman for Donald Trump’s Presidential campaign before being dismissed from that position but was dismissed from that position after leading a protest at RNC headquarters in Washington, D.C. amid allegations that the RNC was withdrawing assets from the Trump campaign in the Old Dominion in favor of preserving the party’s position in down-ballot races for Congress. Despite that dismissal, Stewart remained a vocal supporter of the President both during the campaign and afterward and in many respects mirrored Trump’s campaign in both his unsuccessful run for the GOP’s Gubernatorial nomination last year and his more successful campaign this year, and says that he will continue to do so in his campaign against Kaine, who of course was Hillary Clinton’s running mate in the 2016 Presidential election.

As I noted earlier today, though, it’s unclear that having the President’s endorsement is going to do Stewart much good, and indeed it may end up doing him more harm than good. In addition to the fact that Hillary Clinton handily won the state in 2016, continuing the trend that former President Obama began in 2008 and 2012, the President is not exactly a popular figure among Virginia voters. This is best seen by the fact that his job approval in the Old Dominion is significantly worse than it is in the nation as a whole. While Trump’s support could help boost turnout among Republican voters, it’s also likely to boost turnout among anti-Trump independents and Democrats, thus making Stewart’s problems even worse Add into that the fact that the principal campaign arm of Senate Republicans has effectively written off his campaign, and things look bleak indeed for the Stewart campaign.

 

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2018, Congress, US Politics, , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Kathy says:

    I wonder how many Tweets by the Orange Twit will it take to change their minds.

    Also, it’s never too late to distance themselves from Trump.

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  2. James Pearce says:

    So….Republicans would rather see Tim Kaine re-elected than flip the seat? That’s how I feel about Jeff Flake. Oh well.

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  3. An Interested Party says:

    So….Republicans would rather see Tim Kaine re-elected than flip the seat?

    But of course…while they may embrace Stewart’s racism behind the scenes (well, not too much behind the scenes considering who is the head of their party), they certainly can’t appear to be openly doing that…hmm, approving of traitorous Confederates and getting into bed with Russia…what a party the GOP has become…

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  4. CSK says:

    Apparently even Sarah Sanders and Raj Shah can’t stand it any longer. CBS is reporting that they’re both leaving the WH at the end of the year.

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  5. Yank says:

    So….Republicans would rather see Tim Kaine re-elected than flip the seat?

    They are thinking about down the ballot.

    The GOP nearly got whipped out here in VA in the Gubernatorial election and Gillespie was no where near as toxic as Stewart. If Stewart implodes, areas like the 5th and 7th district might be in play for Democrats, which I wouldn’t have thought would be possible a year ago.

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  6. EddieInCA says:

    1. Stewart is an unapologetic racist. Anyone who votes for him isn’t necessarily a racist, but they certainly are okay with voting for an outright racist.

    2. This, once again, proves the point that a very large part of the GOP base – not the entire GOP – but it’s most hardcore members, are racists.

    3. Tim Kaine is going to make this whole election about Charlottesville. Are you with the White Supremacists? Or are you with the Tim Kaine? Simple binary choice. White Nationalist Racist or Tim Kaine?

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  7. EddieInCA says:

    @James Pearce:


    James Pearce says:
    Wednesday, June 13, 2018 at 20:01

    So….Republicans would rather see Tim Kaine re-elected than flip the seat?

    Most republicans would. Yes. They’d rather not be associated with a hardcore racist. It’s not that hard a choice, unless you’re a racist.

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  8. Moosebreath says:

    @EddieInCA:

    “Most republicans would.”

    I will disagree. I predict that Stewart will get nearly all of the votes of registered Republicans, and likely about 40% statewide of all votes.

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  9. Charon says:

    @James Pearce:

    So….Republicans would rather see Tim Kaine re-elected than flip the seat?

    No, just being pragmatic – Corey Stewart is a lost cause anyway so they are conceding the seat to try to forestall Democratic efforts to make Stewart a face of the party. (It’s unfashionable to acknowledge the party is filled with racists, why Stewart is the nominee in the first place).

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  10. KM says:

    People have to remember, the Trump Effect only works for Trump. These people who’ve crawled out from under a rock to gleefully spread their hate in broad daylight – they think because Donald did it, so can they. He’s their Columbus, leading the way back to the Promised Land after society cast them out.

    And one by one, they’re being proved wrong. Because the cult is about TRUMP, not Trump-lite. Why accept the lesser of two evils? How many Republicans have crashed and burned in during the rise of Trump pulling an Icarus? His cult will forgive Donald anything but to assume you have the same privileges as Dear Leader is asking for it. Whatever voodoo he’s woven over the public will not save you and it’s not gonna last forever. Plus, Donald doesn’t like rivals or close imitators (ask Scaramucci). There can be only one and it ain’t Stewart….

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  11. Charon says:

    @KM:

    People have to remember, the Trump Effect only works for Trump

    Your opinion. There are, indeed, people who are into Trump as a personality, as a personality cult complete with fuhrerprinzip. But there are more people demanding support for Trump as a litmus test then just those. Trump is a symbol, too, like a flag or a team jersey or like Pepe the Frog. For many, Trump support is just symbolic of allegiance to Pepe or the Freedom Caucus or whatever. It’s like standing for the national anthem.

    IOW, God save the King. When a new King succeeds, God save the King still applies. There is no going back for the GOP, this is now who they are.

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  12. James Pearce says:

    Not @ing anyone to save our hosts from having to spring me from the mod queue:

    while they may embrace Stewart’s racism behind the scenes

    Actually, what this says to me is that the claims that the GOP is a racist party have been somewhat….overstated. They’re not embracing him. They’re willing to see a Democrat elected in his stead. They’re not desperate for that one-vote edge in the same way the Dems are.

    They’d rather not be associated with a hardcore racist.

    What is the evidence that Stewart is a “hard core” racist? He’s got a big “WP” tattoo on his throat? Might he just be a kind of mild racist? Might his “racism” be more of an expression of tribalism than, you know, a grand theory of race?

    they are conceding the seat to try to forestall Democratic efforts to make Stewart a face of the party.

    Maybe… One idea I’ve had in my head for the last few years, though, is that Republicans are not worried about what Democrats will do…at all. They know they can walk into any city in America and find “their people,” whereas there are many communities in America –some small, others not so small– where Dems are barely even present. It’s not a helpful or good dynamic, especially if you’re expecting the Dems to be a kind of hedge.

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  13. Yank says:

    Actually, what this says to me is that the claims that the GOP is a racist party have been somewhat….overstated. They’re not embracing him. They’re willing to see a Democrat elected in his stead. They’re not desperate for that one-vote edge in the same way the Dems are.

    As usual, you have no idea what you are talking about.

    This whole thing is about down the ballot. 2017 was a rough year for the GOP in VA and the environment in 2018 is going to be worse for them. Stewart is toxic here and having him at the top of the ticket, may drive right-leaning independents in the suburbs and college towns of VA to the Democrats (which is what happened in 2017 gubernatorial race).

    The GOP’s racism isn’t being overstated here, they are just covering their asses.

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  14. SKI says:

    Talk about damning with faint praise…

    Are we supposed to be impressed that the Senate GOP aren’t promoting Stewart without considering that they aren’t *condemning* him is a pretty major flaw?

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  15. James Pearce says:

    @Yank:

    The GOP’s racism isn’t being overstated here, they are just covering their asses.

    Sure, “covering their asses” by distancing themselves from the one guy who is supposedly emblematic of their true beliefs.

    Yeah, because that makes sense….

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  16. Charon says:

    @James Pearce:

    Sure, “covering their asses” by distancing themselves from the one guy who is supposedly emblematic of their true beliefs.

    Sincerity is important in politics. Project sincerity and the voters will respond.

    Does it shock you that pols might say whatever it takes to win elections?

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  17. Yank says:

    Sure, “covering their asses” by distancing themselves from the one guy who is supposedly emblematic of their true beliefs.

    Yeah, because that makes sense….

    Are you really this naive?

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  18. James Pearce says:

    @Yank: For not believing in a conspiracy theory? I guess so…

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  19. An Interested Party says:

    Actually, what this says to me is that the claims that the GOP is a racist party have been somewhat….overstated. They’re not embracing him.

    No, they simply embrace the Racist-in-Chief…

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  20. Yank says:

    @James Pearce: Conspiracy theory? It is called common sense for anyone who actually follows VA politics.

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