WOODBRIDGE, Va. — Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chair Corey Stewart announced Thursday he would challenge Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine in 2018 — and cast his campaign as a challenge to the rest of the Republican Party, too.
Stewart launched his Senate run exactly one month after barely losing Virginia’s GOP gubernatorial primary to former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie with fighting words for Kaine and the GOP alike. Stewart massively outperformed expectations in losing to Gillespie by less than 2 percentage points, and he painted his combative, Trump-inspired style as the future of the Republican Party.
“The era of the kinder, gentler Republican is over,” Stewart said.
Stewart also reserved plenty of rancor for Kaine, Hillary Clinton’s vice presidential running mate in 2016.
"As an obedient servant to Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, Tim Kaine is the leading obstructionist against Trump’s America First agenda," Stewart said. "Virginians and citizens across the country need a fighter representing them in D.C.”
Speaking to reporters on the lawn of his historic plantation home, Bel Air, Stewart said he represented a new type of Trump-inspired Republican and would benefit from donors around the country who are looking to defeat Kaine. Stewart was Trump’s Virginia campaign chair before the campaign fired him for protestingoutside Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington late in the campaign.
Trump is unpopular in Virginia, according to public polling. But Stewart predicted that would change as more of the president’s “signature policies” pass into law and the economy improves.
Stewart said the health care legislation under consideration in the Senate doesn’t go far enough toward repealing Obamacare, that he would be a “strong advocate” for building Trump’s proposed border wall with Mexico and would call for mandatory cooperation between local law enforcement and immigration authorities.
He also attacked Kaine for mentioning “treason” when discussing Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Russian lawyer who promised the president’s son negative information about Clinton.
“Every morning, when Virginians wake up, they worry about how they’re going to support their families,” Stewart said. “Tim Kaine wakes up every morning and thinks about Russia.”
A Kaine spokesman said the Democrat is in strong position to win reelection. Kaine announced last week he raised $2.6 million in the second quarter and had $7.3 million on hand.
"Right out of the gate, Corey Stewart is more focused on name-calling than improving Virginians’ lives,” Kaine adviser Jenny Nadicksbernd said. “Sen. Kaine will continue working with both Democrats and Republicans to build economic opportunity through better skills, jobs and wages and protect health care for all Virginians."
Carly Fiorina, a 2016 Republican presidential candidate who also ran for Senate in California in 2010, is also considering a challenge to Kaine.