Prince William Chairman to announce bid for reelection

By Jennifer Buske
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, February 28, 2011; 7:04 PM

Prince William Board of County Supervisors Chairman Corey A. Stewart (R-At Large), one of a handful of potential GOP candidates considering a race for Democratic Sen. James Webb's seat in 2012, plans to announce Tuesday that he'll seek another term as chairman.

"I really love this place, and I wouldn't choose to run in any other locality," Stewart said Monday. "Prince William is where the action is. . . . I really enjoy my job and have made a lot of progress. I know what to expand on."

Stewart has toyed with the idea of running for the U.S. Senate seat, a move that would place him up against former senator George Allen, tea party leader Jamie Radtke and Hampton Roads lawyer David McCormick. During Tuesday's press conference, Stewart said he wouldn't confirm nor deny whether running for higher office was in his future.

"It is something I've been thinking about, but at the end of the day, I don't think it's a good idea to plan that far ahead," Stewart said. "I don't know what I'm going to do in the future, as life has its way of following its own course."

A handful of other Republicans are eyeing the Senate race, including Del. Robert G. Marshall (Prince William), Hampton Roads businessman Bert Mizusawa and Bishop Earl Jackson, pastor of Exodus Faith Ministries in Chesapeake. Allen, a former governor and senator with a statewide base of support, has the tacit backing of much of the party establishment. If Stewart ran, he would be battling Radtke and possibly Marshall for grassroots support to the ideological right of Allen.

Based on recent contests, Stewart would have to raise at least $10 million to beat Allen in a primary and then run a credible general-election campaign.

Stewart, however, said that he was focused on holding onto his local position. The 42-year-old said he would push for economic growth while campaigning in Prince William. Job growth along the Route 1 corridor and in the county's western end is key, he said, along with making transportation improvements. In the next few weeks, Stewart said he plans to make an announcement regarding new funding for county roads.

When running four years ago, Stewart campaigned largely on the need for immigration reform. When county officials adopted a policy that required local police to check the immigration status of all those arrested, Stewart took the national spotlight, touting the county's crackdown on illegal immigrants.

Although he has made several trips across Virginia in recent months to push for statewide immigration reform, he said he would not focus on it as much at the local level.

"Times have changed, and there are other needs in the county now," he said. "What the county needs more than anything else right now is economic growth, transportation dollars for roads and funding for schools."

Several county residents have said they will challenge Stewart come November, including independent John Gray; Haymarket Town Council member Robert B. "Bob" Weir, a Republican; and two Democrats, eye surgeon Babur Lateef and County Planning Commission Chairman Gary Friedman. Some have expressed concern about Stewart's leadership, saying his political aspirations have gotten in the way of his focus on the county.

"Leadership and good public policy start at the top," Weir said when announcing his candidacy, "and I'm not seeing much."

Staff writer Ben Pershing contributed to this report.

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