Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart notched a very impressive endorsement today.
Newly-elected Republican National Committeewoman Cynthia Dunbar today announced her endorsement of Stewart’s gubernatorial campaign with an enthusiastic statement of support:
People are tired of politicians who are long on message and short on action. They want real leaders, leaders willing to confront the political elite, NOT join them. Corey has proven he isn’t afraid to speak out for what is right and to fight for what is in the best interest of the people. He is directed by an internal moral compass which is why he does not back down from a fight. There are many politicians driven by compromise to make their fellow elected officials happy, but there are very few leaders like Corey Stewart who are driven by conviction to make the people happy. That is why I am endorsing Corey Stewart for Governor of Virginia.”
This is a very good pickup for Corey, and highlights the growing strength of his campaign among a segment of the grassroots activist base, particularly in the western part of the Commonwealth. The endorsement comes after the notable unity endorsement of Dunbar at this past summer’s statewide GOP convention by both Stewart, then Virginia chairman of the Trump campaign, and Sen. Bill Stanley (R-Franklin), who served as chairman of the Ted Cruz campaign in the state.
The endorsement sets up a split among National Committee members from Virginia, with Dunbar backing Stewart and Morton Blackwell backing Ed Gillespie. Both individuals have earned significant respect from around the party, but among conservatives in particular. (Full disclosure: this author has endorsed Gillespie).
Among the other candidates, Denver Riggleman and Ed Gillespie both had successful kickoff tours this weekend, with grassroots events at various parts of the state.
The remaining candidate, Sen. Frank Wagner (R-Virginia Beach), is marking himself for criticism over support of a 2015 measure that fixes utility rates in place for a span of several years. A bipartisan effort led by Sen. David Suetterlein (R-Roanoke) and Sen. Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax) would require refunds to consumers in the event the utilities have profits beyond their regulated minimums. More on that to come.
Remember the end-of-year mad dash to get your donations last month? Next up in the headlines will be campaign finance reports, which are due to be published Tuesday. The campaign of Ed Gillespie has already signaled they will have a very strong report that will likely leave other contenders for Governor in the dust. His campaign reported last week that they had raised over a million dollars in the last quarter alone, and have about $2 million cash on hand, after apparently eclipsing what both former Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and former Governor Bob McDonnell had done by this point in the previous two cycles. Corey Stewart is no slouch when it comes to fundraising either, and is also likely to post some healthy numbers. Sen. Wagner can be expected to show respectable returns, while the newcomer to the race, Denver Riggleman is still probably long on enthusiasm but still a little short on cash as he attempts to make up for lost time relative to the other candidates.
All of this will come on the heels of the announcement from the Republican Governors Association that they’ve contributed $5 million to a special purpose PAC to elect the next GOP nominee for Governor in Virginia. This constitutes the largest single contribution ever made in Virginia politics. But it comes with a catch: if circumstances evolve such that RGA or other national Republicans aren’t pleased with how the race is going in Virginia, RGA reserves the right to transfer the funds elsewhere.
We expect the Attorney General race between John Adams and Chuck Smith will show a pretty stark contrast. Adams, who has proceeded with an aura of inevitability since the withdrawal of Del. Rob Bell (R-Albemarle) from the race, is expected to show quite a lead over Smith. Maybe we’ll be surprised.
The interesting race (isn’t it always?) will be for Lieutenant Governor. All three candidates so far, Del. Glenn Davis (R-Virginia Beach), and Sens. Jill Vogel (R-Fauquier) and Bryce Reeves (R-Spotsylvania), have some talent for fundraising, and each has a natural base of financial support from which to draw. Conventional wisdom, though, says that Vogel will set herself apart here, and use a strong lead in fundraising to help establish a frontrunner status. Assuming this is what unfolds, then together with her status as the only woman running statewide, this helps round out a pair of strong arguments for Vogel to be on the ticket in the fall. We’ll know soon enough.
For his part, Reeves seems determined not to let the recent email scandal involving fake emails apparently sent from the Vogel house or its envrions (which Vogel claims had to have come from someone else) get swept under the rug or forgotten. His campaign has doubled down on the story, and is running the following graphic on social media:
Never a dull moment in Virginia politics. Stay tuned.