Board Chairman Stewart To Seek Lt. Governor Post
Friday, February 15, 2008
Prince William Board of County Supervisors Chairman Corey A. Stewart, the politically ambitious architect of the county's illegal immigration crackdown, said he plans to run for lieutenant governor next year.
It is well known that Stewart, a conservative Republican, is eyeing higher office. He frequently has been mentioned as a potential successor to U.S. Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.). And now that Davis has decided not to seek reelection, Stewart has declared himself the "preeminent Republican in Northern Virginia."
Stewart said he spent the past month weighing his options while watching the General Assembly reach a virtual stalemate on several bills opposing illegal immigration. He also watched lawmakers advance a measure that would scrap the state's 30-year-old system in which local governments negotiate contributions for such things as roads, libraries and schools from builders.
"They have stymied all attempts to crack down on illegal immigration," Stewart said of the state Senate, where Democrats hold a narrow majority. "They are cutting off support for schools, roads and local governments while they expand Governor [Timothy M.] Kaine's pre-K program," Stewart said, referring to the Democratic chief executive.
"They need someone down there who is going to beat up on them," he said. "They need me down there to break the bottleneck."
The lieutenant governor presides over the Senate.
Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R) is expected to run for governor in 2009, giving Stewart a shot at an open seat. He is the first Republican to announce his intention to run, a decision first reported in yesterday's Washington Times.
While the rest of Northern Virginia continued a Democratic trend in November, Prince William County solidified its conservative tilt. Stewart takes credit for that by championing such issues as slow growth and the fight against illegal immigration.
"Republicans got creamed in Northern Virginia in 2007, and I held Prince William together and kept it Republican," Stewart said. "The party needs a shot in the arm. It's gone stale. It needs vigorous leadership."
Stewart's first foray into politics was in 2003, when he was elected to represent the Occoquan District on the Board of County Supervisors. He moved up to the chairmanship after he won a 2006 special election to replace Republican Sean T. Connaughton. Stewart, 39, was reelected to a four-year term in November.
Stewart said he does not intend to step down from the chairmanship while he runs for statewide office. "I need to fulfill my promise to voters and see to it that the illegal immigration resolution is fully implemented," he said.