Opinion

What Happened in Virginia?

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Posted: Jun 16, 2018 12:01 AM
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What Happened in Virginia?

The Virginia Republican primary yielded Corey Stewart as the opponent to face Tim Kaine in the U.S. Senate election this November. 

Stewart beat Nick Freitas by a difference of 1.7% of the votes. It was a close race.

304,435 Virginians voted. 136,544 for Stewart, 131,267 for Freitas. Stewart won by 5,277 total votes. 

Northern Virginia, a DC suburb, appears to have handed the victory to Corey Stewart over his liberty conservative opponent, where Stewart brought in 10,604 more votes than Freitas.*

This may surprise some. After all, Corey Stewart appeared to espouse country values, while Freitas was the more mainstream candidate.

Stewart’s campaign focused on preservation of Confederate monuments, supporting Trump, and fighting illegal immigration. Freitas’ campaign focused on Second Amendment rights, enhancing school security, and lowering taxes. Freitas was endorsed by the NRA, Rand Paul, Americans for Prosperity, etc. Corey Stewart was endorsed by alt-right figures. 

After his win, Stewart was attacked by CNN’s Chris Cuomo for not denouncing his alt-right supporters. To be fair, CNN does not attack Democrat candidates about their supporters, like organizations that promote killing police officers, nor ask Democrat candidates to denounce their alt-left supporters, and so the interview does not yield a response that we can evaluate in any context, or compare to other candidates. But Stewart did not denounce their support. He welcomed it. “I take support from whomever wants to give it to me. Doesn’t mean I support their views,” Stewart stated. 

Yet Northern Virginia, which handed Stewart the election, is not known for being alt-right or outwardly supportive of Confederate culture. Instead, it’s rather modern and diverse. The Republican party members of Virginia are also diverse. So why did Stewart win Northern Virginia? 

For one, Stewart was already known locally. Stewart held office in one of the key Northern Virginia counties and had previously run for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia and for Governor of Virginia. Nick Freitas was not well known in Northern Virginia, this was his first state-wide election. 

Secondly, Northern Virginia has an immigrant gang problem. And Corey Stewart’s position on illegal immigration and the need to deport gang members may have resonated strongly with the Republicans who are tired of seeing gang crimes on television and who are tired of paying for the trials and incarceration of the gangsters who President Trump aptly referred to as animals

Fairfax County, which led Virginia with the most voters in Tuesday’s Republican primary, is the third wealthiest county in the United States, with a median household income of nearly $113,000. Fairfax County is also the home to nearly 1,500 MS-13 members, according to a 2015 police intelligence report. All counties in Northern Virginia are strongly affected by the recent spike in horrific MS-13 murders. 

Corey Stewart ingratiated himself with Fairfax residents who are tired of gang violence, even holding a “Rally to Defeat MS-13.” He would frequently comment on social media about MS-13 and illegal immigrant crimes.

Corey Stewart’s marginal victory was not due to Northern Virginia’s support for Confederate issues or the alt-right, but instead due to Stewart’s name recognition and his strong stance against illegal immigration, a problem that is plaguing Northern Virginia. 

* Based on New York Times Election Results data, top 4 counties with the most voters were Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William (all in Northern Virginia) with a grand total of 70,017 votes for Northern Virginia, and Virginia Beach (south) with a total of 23,478 votes. In the three Northern Virginia jurisdictions, Stewart received a total of 36,042 votes, while Freitas received 25,434 votes. Stewart won Northern Virginia by 10,604 votes. The entire Virginia race was won by 5,277 votes, so Northern Virginia was key. The remaining jurisdictions had pretty balanced votes and did not heavily weigh on the course of the election.