On Tuesday, Confederate fanboy Corey Stewart, a Republican who lost last year’s Virginia Senate race to Democratic incumbent Tim Kaine by a wide 57-41 margin, announced that he would not seek a fourth term this year as chair of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors.
Stewart, who lost his Northern Virginia constituency to Kaine 65-33, declared he was leaving politics “for the foreseeable future,” adding his departure would last “until and unless the Commonwealth is ready for my views on things, and that’s not right now, clearly.” (Or as the Washington Post’s Aaron Blake put it, “Corey Stewart is getting out of politics until people are more ready for Minnesotans who love Confederate history.”)
Stewart, who unsuccessfully ran for lieutenant governor in 2013 and narrowly lost the 2017 gubernatorial primary, also summed up his feelings about his ostensible day job when he said he felt it “just isn’t exciting for me anymore.” The departing Republican, who kicked off his Senate run by pledging to “run a very vicious and ruthless campaign against Tim Kaine,” also bemoaned that, “Politics sucks,” adding, “On a personal level, it’s been a disaster.”
Stewart has served as chair of Prince William County since he was elected countywide in a 2006 special election, and he won three full terms even as the area has been getting bluer.
Stewart first made a name for himself by railing against undocumented immigrants, and he won his first race a dozen years ago by promoting a local resolution that directed the police to check the immigration status of anyone they suspected wasn’t in the country legally.
The measure, which led to an exodus of Latino residents from Prince William County, was later amended to apply just to individuals in police custody. Stewart’s xenophobic crusade made him an early hero of national conservatives and something of a proto Trump; Stewart himself has bragged that he was “Trump before Trump was Trump.”
However, unlike his idol, Stewart never did rise to the higher office he sought. Still, he still won re-election by double digits in 2007, 2011, and 2015. Stewart went on to serve as Trump’s Virginia state chair, a post he was fired from in October of 2016 after he led a protest against the Republican National Committee for what he saw was their insufficient support of Trump. Stewart only got worse afterwards, and he took up the cause of preserving statues honoring Confederate figures. Among many other things, he’s said that removing those monuments is something ISIS would do, and he threatened to defund any city that took down its memorial.
While Stewart had plenty of staying power in Prince William County, Democrats may finally have their chance to take power in Virginia’s second-largest jurisdiction. There will be a June 11 partisan primary (the same day as Virginia’s legislative primaries), and the general election will be Nov. 5.