E.W. Jackson, a firebrand minister who says that yoga leads to Satan and that gay people are ill, plans to announce that he is seeking the Republican nomination to challenge Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) next year, Jackson’s finance director said.
Jackson will announce his candidacy on Monday in the Chesapeake area, said Steven Thomas, who said he is raising money for Jackson’s campaign and filled the same role during Jackson’s 2013 losing bid for lieutenant governor.
A website registered to Jackson was updated Tuesday and announces “EW Jackson for U.S. Senate.”
Jackson did not return calls seeking comment.
“Rumors are flying that I’m going to run for US Senate in Virginia,” he tweeted last week. “Stand by for the official word sometime next month.”
He will face Corey Stewart, a bombastic Prince William County official who ran for the GOP nomination for governor earlier this year in the mold of President Trump. Several other Republicans are considering whether to join the race.
The Senate field is expected to solidify this weekend when Virginia Republicans gather for their largest annual event — dubbed the Advance — at an Allegheny Mountain resort in western Virginia.
In an interview on WAMU Radio last week, Virginia GOP Chairman John Whitbeck said the party will remain neutral, but noted, “It’s not going to be just Corey Stewart in this race by himself.”
Stewart, who declared his candidacy in July, on Tuesday announced the endorsement of Jerry Falwell Jr., the influential head of Liberty University and an ally of Trump.
In a statement, Falwell alluded to Stewart’s narrow loss to Ed Gillespie in the GOP gubernatorial primary in June, calling him “a proven vote-getter who will win back Virginia’s U.S. Senate seat for conservatives.”
Trump needs Stewart “in the U.S. Senate to help clean up the swamp in Washington,” Falwell said.
In response to the endorsement, Stewart said, “Virginia’s awakening is happening, and Mr. Falwell’s endorsement is proof positive [that] conservative Republicans will take back Virginia.”
Stewart has promised a “vicious” campaign to try to unseat Kaine, a popular former governor and 2016 vice-presidential running mate to Hillary Clinton who is seeking a second term in the Senate.
In addition to Stewart, the only other candidate who filed federal paperwork to run as of Tuesday is Ivan Raiklin, an Army veteran who recently jogged an average of 22 miles a day to bring awareness to suicide among veterans and to begin his campaign.
As a Green Beret, he advised the Salvadoran army on ways to counter the MS-13 gang, and he has served as a foreign affairs specialist and intelligence officer, according to his website. He has lived in Virginia since 2004, the site says.
Republicans turned off by Stewart’s approach are looking to another candidate, Del. Nick Freitas (Culpeper), who said Tuesday that he is considering a run for the nomination.
The two-term state lawmaker is a former head of the Culpeper County GOP and moved to Virginia in 2009. He served in the Army Special Forces as a Green Beret and is a defense contractor.
John Norton Moore, an international law expert who has taught at the University of Virginia School of Law on and off for half a century, is also considering a run, he said in an interview Monday.
Moore, who established the U.S. Institute of Peace under President Ronald Reagan, said he is focused on big policy questions about the economy, health care, Social Security and criminal justice.
Freitas, Moore, Raiklin and Stewart will host small parties in hotel suites at a GOP retreat in Hot Springs, a sign to party activists that they are interested in running for public office.
Also Tuesday, a nonpartisan organization advocating for term limits released a pledge signed by Jackson saying that if he is elected, he will support a constitutional amendment limiting House members to three terms and Senate members to two terms.