Another Republican candidate with white supremacist views landed a spot on the party’s ticket heading into November’s general election – and this one has the support of President Donald Trump.
Corey Stewart, a staunch defender of Confederate symbols known to associate with figures from the alt-right movement, will face Democratic Senator Tim Kaine in the midterm election this fall.
Trump congratulated Stewart early Wednesday morning on Twitter, saying the pro-white candidate has a “major chance of winning”:
Kaine's campaign blasted Stewart in a statement minutes after news organizations declared Stewart the winner.
"A cruder imitation of Donald Trump who stokes white supremacy and brags about being 'ruthless and vicious,' Corey Stewart would be an embarrassment for Virginia in the US Senate," said Kaine communications director Ian Sams.
Members of the Republican Party appear to share this view:
"I am extremely disappointed that a candidate like Corey Stewart could win the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate," former Virginia Republican Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling tweeted. "This is clearly not the Republican Party I once knew, loved and proudly served. Every time I think things can't get worse they do, and there is no end in sight."
Brian J. Walsh, a Republican strategist who has worked on Senate campaigns, tweeted: "Can we just skip past the part where the media focuses on all the idiotic, racist & embarrassing things Corey Stewart will say & do the next five months and just acknowledge Tim Kaine won his re-election tonight. And he has Stewart voters to thank for it."
Republicans have good reason to be concerned -- Stewart has a troubling history for a party trying to distance itself from alt-right extremists.
Stewart, who was fired from his position of Virginia chairman of Donald Trump's campaign for protesting outside the Republican National Committee, has openly flirted with the alt-right and firmly believes the conservative party is not pro-Trump enough.
He attended a news conference with the leader of the white supremacist protest that later resulted in the death of a counter-protester in Charlottesville. And after that counter-protester, Heather Heyer, was killed in a hit-and-run, Stewart blamed the violence on "both sides."
In an interview with The Washington Post at the time, Stewart called Republicans “weak” for standing against the rally and issuing an apology:
“All the weak Republicans, they couldn’t apologize fast enough,” Stewart said in an interview with The Washington Post. “They played right into the hands of the left wing. Those [Nazi] people have nothing to do with the Republican Party. There was no reason to apologize.”
But Stewart’s insistence that Unite the Right rally goers were unconnected to his party is betrayed by his own actions:
Stewart has made several joint appearances with Jason Kessler, organizer of the “Unite the Right” rally that sparked the unrest in Charlottesville.
Stewart met Kessler at an event earlier this year to protest the removal of the statue of Robert E. Lee from Emancipation Park in Charlottesville. And at one point during the [gubernatorial] primary race, Stewart attended a Charlottesville news conference with Kessler and Isaac Smith, founders of Unity and Security for America (USA), a fledgling group that calls for “defending Western Civilization.”
According to CNN, the National Republican Senatorial Committee declined to say whether it would throw its support behind Stewart now that he has won the party’s nomination.