VC Note: I wrote the following piece back on March 22nd of this year. For the last several months, I have debated whether or not I should post it; after all, I don’t enjoy writing negative articles against candidates. However, given recent high profile endorsements, including the virtual tea party endorsement, along with a slew of anonymous hit pieces tied directly or indirectly with the Stewart campaign, I realized that this issue must be highlighted and not done in secret on behalf of someone else, but through my own hand.
There are two facets to Corey Stewart and his campaign that, in my mind, set him and his campaign apart from the other six in this race to be Virginia’s next lieutenant governor.
The first is that his campaign is the only one of the seven to speak with me about working for him. In all fairness, I’m a bit surprised by this development. Although I’ve discussed this issue with the Cuccinelli campaign and both the Bell and Obenshain camps, I’ve taken a rather neutral approach to the LG race. Nevertheless, while attending a dinner with Mr. Stewart, his staff, and fellow members of the tea party in Harrisonburg late last year, I was told that the Stewart campaign was looking to hire someone with Ron Paul connections to work within the liberty community. Given that I served as the director of grassroots organizing in South Carolina for Dr. Paul in 2007/08, appointed myself the unofficial Harrisonburg coordinator for the 2012 campaign, and have been quite active with my fellow brothers and sisters in liberty over the years, I suppose that I would fit the bill pretty well. In addition, at that time I was (and unfortunately still am) searching for political employment. And yet, despite the chance to make a steady paycheck and work amongst my Ron Paul brethren once more, I did not jump at this opportunity. But why? This question leads me to the second issue.
Rewind the clock to late 2010 and early 2011. Before Corey Stewart began his listening tour, gauging the idea of running for U.S. Senate, I didn’t know too much about him. Sure, he was and is the Chairman of the Board of Supervisors for Prince William County; cracking down on illegal immigration was his signature issue that brought him a lot of praise and condemnation from various folks, but those details covered the extent of my knowledge. However, on February 24th of 2011, Corey Stewart came to speak to the Harrisonburg Tea Party.
Looking back further, as I wrote back in October of 2010, a new Facebook group popped up called “Republicans Against a George Allen Comeback”. At that time, I didn’t pay the group much mind. After all, like many Virginia Republicans, I still wore the rose-colored Allen glasses. In my mind, George Allen was a great governor and a pretty good senator who ended up saying some stupid things which cost him his position back in 2006. In addition, I should add that I almost always develop a very strong sense of loyalty to my former employers; even though I didn’t work for him directly, in 2006 I was an employee of the Republican Party of Virginia whose top priority was Allen’s re-election.
I found that the more I learned of Corey Stewart on the night of 2/24/11, the more I liked him. Therefore, when he repeated some of the same claims offered by the previously mentioned Facebook group, I decided to look into the matter. Was George Allen, as Mr. Stewart suggested, a “mediocre” senator? (video from VA Social Conservative). Did he support many of the same big government programs that tarnished the Republican brand in Washington, programs for which I previously condemned Republican president George W. Bush?
Upon Mr. Stewart’s urging, I set aside my previous thoughts about George Allen and looked at his record objectively. And what did I find? The sobering truth. As many readers already know, unfortunately George Allen was one of those Republicans who vastly expanded the role of the federal government in areas such as education, health care, and the erosion of our civil liberties. For me, the facade that I had wishfully erected around George Allen since my first days in politics had been shattered. I was convinced that Virginia conservatives could and should nominate someone far better than Mr. Allen to send to the U.S. Senate.
By November 1st of 2011, Corey Stewart decided against running for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate. So then, he must have rallied behind one of the candidates, like Jamie Radtke, right? No, in a stunning complete reversal, he endorsed George Allen. According to Politifact, “Stewart was asked about his characterization of Allen as a ‘mediocre’ senator. ‘All in all, I’ve got to say that I retract that statement and I have to say he had a very good senate record,’ he said.” But wait just a second. As he was no longer in office, George Allen’s Senate record did not change. The only thing that did change was Corey Stewart’s political motivations.
I was (and still am two and a half years later) shocked by this development. How could Mr. Stewart tour Virginia for the purpose of deriding George Allen to endorse him only nine months later? Obviously, the answer, as Corey Stewart states in the Politifact article, stems, not from desire to spread the truth, but from his political ambitions. Is this quality of flexible morality something you desire of someone who seeks to lead us in Richmond?
Given these factors, I’m sure you can understand why I didn’t pounce upon the opportunity to work on the Stewart campaign last year. Yes, I’m sure that they would have compensated me fairly well, but what price would I have to pay? If I promoted his message to my fellow liberty-minded activists would I completely destroy my credibility in the movement? If I knowingly worked for someone who I didn’t trust from the very beginning could I bear the sight of looking at myself in the mirror? Now, I know that some would merely shrug their shoulders at this idea. After all, a job is just a job. But I firmly believe what you do (and what you do not do) is an important reflection of who you are.
Many people value my writing on this blog for its objectivity, which I appreciate. However, I must state my strong opinion that although Mr. Stewart might be a fine candidate and person in many regards, I can only support candidates I can trust. Therefore, I could not work for Corey Stewart nor will I be able to cast my vote for him at the Republican convention on May 18th. The last thing either the Republican Party or Virginia needs to promote is another self-serving politician willing to say or do anything to advance his or her own political career.
Although you can only see some of the words written behind Mr. Stewart as he spoke against George Allen at a local Baptist church in 2011, you can see, perhaps ironically that they are from the Bible, John 8:32. “Then you shall know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”
Should the Stewart campaign wish to offer a rebuttal to this piece, I’ll be happy to offer their commentary to you.