For decades Republicans have endured what they believed to be unfair attacks of racism. With the nomination of Corey Stewart, they have ensured those attacks will be continuing.
Corey Stewart is the Republican nominee for Senator of Virginia. He has said and done things in the past which open him to allegations of racism and white supremacy. His potential nomination was deemed so problematic that conservatives as diverse as anti-Trump Libertarians the Koch Brothers, pro-Trump libertarian-leaning Republican Rand Paul and Constitutional Republican Mike Lee all strongly supported his primary opponent. (CNN)
After his win, the GOP Senate campaign arm announced it did not intent to send funds to Mr. Stewart. The subheader of the Wall Street Journal piece on that decision explains why:
Primary win by pro-Confederacy candidate could put the party on the defensive in key races
All of this would seem to give the impression that the GOP is attempting to maintain a distance between the official party and someone who happened to run under their banner but who is not representative of the party. One prominent GOP member, however, broke ranks with the rest of the party:
Congratulations to Corey Stewart for his great victory for Senator from Virginia. Now he runs against a total stiff, Tim Kaine, who is weak on crime and borders, and wants to raise your taxes through the roof. Don’t underestimate Corey, a major chance of winning!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 13, 2018
Corey Stewart has established ties to the President. He was the State Chairman of the Trump campaign in Virginia, up until he participated in an anti-RNC protest condemning Republicans in favor of praising Donald Trump. (Washington Post) Unfortunately for the Republicans, his connections to Trump are not in question; his connections to racists and white supremacists are.
Stewart has made it clear that he is not a racist. The same cannot be true for a man he called his personal hero, Paul Nehlen:
Stewart has since said that he rescinds stopped considering Nehlen his hero after Nehlen delivered his racist and anti-Semitic remarks.
The Jerusalem Post explains his connection to Jason Kessler, another controversial figure prominent in White Supremacist circles:
He had to apologize for having appeared with Jason Kessler at a news conference; Kessler was an organizer of the protest in Charlottesville, Virginia, last August against removing Confederate monuments that drew neo-Nazis and white supremacists and culminated in the killing of a counterprotester.
Prior to those events, Stewart had gained prominence throughout the state by running a campaign for the Governorship based on preserving Confederate monuments and symbols. From the Star Tribune:
In April, he hailed the Confederate flag during an “Old South Ball” in Danville and told the crowd, “Over my dead body when I’m governor … are we ever going to take down a statue of Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson or any other hero of the commonwealth of Virginia!”
Last week, when Stewart took to Twitter to say that nothing was worse than a Yankee telling a Southerner that his monuments don’t matter, social media exploded back at him.
“You’re no southerner, you are a Minnesotan,” former NFL wide receiver Donte Stallworth tweeted back. “Respect your home state’s sacrifice for helping the United States win the Civil War.”
Stewart says he is not a racist. His chosen path to prominence, however, has used not merely those who wish to preserve their state history but also those who are fundamentally racist as a support base, and the Democrats will undoubtedly take advantage of that in the upcoming elections. GOP leaders recognized that and attempted to distance themselves. They forgot that Donald J. Trump runs the party, now.