A candidate-vetting conclave of tea party members and other conservatives has chosen Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart as their preferred Republican candidate for Virginia lieutenant governor, the groups announced Monday.
The group also gave its blessing to state Sen. Mark D. Obenshain (R-Harrisonburg), who received more support than Del. Rob B. Bell III (R-Albemarle) in the race for attorney general.
Mark Daugherty, chairman of the Virginia Tea Party Patriots Federation, said about 200 people picked Stewart from a crowded field of Republican candidates in a forum that involved live interviews with each candidate at Life Church in Mechanicsburg. Middle Resolution PAC members also participated in the two-day vetting process Friday and Saturday.
Each of the nine candidates for lieutenant governor and attorney general appeared alone on stage at the church to answer about 30 questions from a moderator, Daugherty said. Participants scored the candidates based on responses that embodied the group’s ideals of limited government based on a strict interpretation of the Constitution.
“The beauty of this is . . . they have to prevail or sink on their own answers to the questions, on their own merits,” Daugherty said.
Each candidate’s final score also took into account surveys distributed and evaluated by a subcommittee that assessed each campaign’s viability in terms of fund-raising, resources, volunteers and paid staff, Daugherty said.
Daugherty and Angie Parker, executive director of Middle Resolution PAC, said more than 1,000 delegates will now draw on the results from the vetting process before heading to the Republican Nominating Convention in Richmond on May 17 and 18 to select nominees for lieutenant governor and attorney general.
In addition to Stewart, the contenders for lieutenant governor include former state senator Jeannemarie Devolites Davis (Fairfax); Chesapeake minister E.W. Jackson; Del. L. Scott Lingamfelter (Prince William); state Sen. Stephen H. Martin (Chesterfield); technology entrepreneur Pete Snyder; and Susan Stimpson, chairwoman of the Stafford County Board of Supervisors.
The GOP’s nominee for lieutenant governor would face either former U.S. chief technology officer Aneesh Chopra or state Sen. Ralph S. Northam (Norfolk) following the Democrats’ June 11 primary.
Though unlikely to steal the focus from the gubernatorial battle underway between Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R) and businessman Terry McAuliffe (D), the lieutenant governor’s race has generated more interest than usual this year because the lieutenant governor presides over the evenly divided Senate.