By Timothy Dwyer
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, June 17, 2007
Supervisor Maureen S. Caddigan (R-Dumfries) won her primary election by collecting a whopping 81 percent of the vote. But despite the landslide, she is fighting mad.
Caddigan, a member of the Board of County Supervisors since 1991, is upset because she thinks Chairman Corey A. Stewart (R) worked to defeat her in the primary.
"I think he did everything in his power to work against me," Caddigan said. "He asked three people to run against me, and I certainly won't be supporting him in November."
Stewart said that he did not support Caddigan's opponent, Charles C. Brewer, directly or indirectly, and that he never recruited anyone to run against her in the primary.
"I didn't support anyone in the race," Stewart said. "I kept my finger off that one. I didn't support Brewer; I didn't endorse him. I know she thinks I somehow recruited him, but that's not true."
Brewer did not respond to a call seeking comment.
Caddigan said Stewart worked against her right up until the primary by asking people to hand out Brewer literature at polling locations in the Dumfries District. Stewart said that he never asked anyone to work the polls for Brewer.
One person active in the county Republican Party disputed Stewart's assertion that he didn't support Brewer. The activist said that Stewart came to him early in the primary campaign and asked him to support Brewer in the election. On primary day the Republican activist said a Brewer poll worker told him that Stewart had asked him to work that day for Brewer.
Stewart "was definitely helping out," said the Republican activist, who requested anonymity because he did not want to get caught up in the intraparty squabble. "He called me when the campaign started and told me that there was a guy out there running against Caddigan and that I might want to take a look at him and consider helping him."
The fracture between Caddigan and Stewart is seen by some in the Republican Party as not just a clash of personalities but also a battle between the moderate members, who support Caddigan, and the more conservative members, who support Stewart. Stewart and Caddigan have been at odds on some issues during county board meetings.
The tension between Caddigan and Stewart that has been present at some meetings has now spilled out onto the campaign trail. Caddigan called Stewart's support of her opponent "despicable."
Stewart said Caddigan "buddies" up with the two Democrats on the board, Supervisors John D. Jenkins (Neabsco) and Hilda M. Barg (Woodbridge). He said the only people who think he supported Brewer are those who were told that by Caddigan.
"This is getting childish," Stewart said, "and I am a little perturbed by her childish behavior."
The dispute might get even more serious if Caddigan openly supports Sharon E. Pandak, who lost to Stewart last November and is running against him again in the general election. Caddigan said that she is considering supporting the Democrat but that she hasn't made up her mind. Stewart said that Caddigan did not support him in the race against Pandak last November and so he is not surprised she once again will not support him this November.
Stewart said that any Republican who does not support the GOP candidates should not be a member of the party.
"She has a history of supporting Democrats," Stewart said. "Now, I don't think that is the right thing to do. I think that if you are a member of the party, you should support other party nominees or get out of your party."
Thomas A. Kopko, chairman of the county Republican Party, was unaware of Caddigan's decision to not support Stewart until he was asked to comment on the matter.
"It would be unfortunate for someone carrying the Republican banner to publicly state that they are not supporting another Republican," Kopko said. "It violates the Republican creed. And, unfortunately, she has placed herself outside of what most Republicans expect from each other."
When asked about Caddigan's contention that Stewart worked against her in the primary, Kopko said, "The strength of our democracy is in the election process. It is not only every citizen's right, it is every citizen's duty to support a candidate who espouses their views most closely."
When Kopko was asked whether he had any direct knowledge of whether Stewart supported Brewer, he said, "It would be appropriate to ask Stewart that question." When asked again about what he knew about Stewart's role in the election, he would only say, "You have my answer."
Kopko disputed the Republican activist's view that the disagreement between Caddigan and Stewart represented a battle between moderate and conservative members of the county party.
Kopko said that he rejected the moderate and conservative labels and that voters made it clear how they feel about their party by electing Stewart last November and then electing Republican Michael C. May in a special election to fill Stewart's seat from the Occoquan District on the board. He did not mention Caddigan's primary win.
When asked what 81 percent of the voters were making clear by casting ballots for Caddigan last Tuesday in the Dumfries District, Kopko said, "I think Maureen has done a lot of good citizens' service in the past, and I think that is what they citizens voted for, as well as she is a known commodity."
Jenkins, the longest-serving member of the board, said that he thinks Stewart supported Caddigan's opponent and that the election results were a "setback" for the chairman.
"She had an overwhelming vote, over 81 percent, with a low voter turnout that indicates that the people who turned out had a message they wanted to send back," Jenkins said. "I think that it was a setback for him. I think it was a vote for good government. People are looking for stability in their government, they like the middle of the road. Radicals, whether they are to the left or the right, are going to find a lot of disfavor in the county."
Kopko said that as party chairman he is going to work to repair the rift between Caddigan and Stewart. That might not be easy.
At Caddigan's victory celebration Tuesday night, Pandak showed up to offer her congratulations. Caddigan introduced Pandak to the crowd. Last week, Caddigan said she is considering supporting Pandak against Stewart. If she did that, it is possible that the county Republican Party would try to expel her.
Caddigan said she has no intention of leaving the party.