Corey Stewart: Ego Run Amok

Corey Stewart, PW County BOC Chairman, is telling folks he will be a candidate for the GOP nod for Lt. Governor next year. Democrats seem to be less than petrified by the prospect, though this RK diary indicates how they might come after him.  Others think his candidacy is the perfect vehicle to get things moving in Richmond.

I think anyone ready to go statewide after winning one county wide general election-and not having served a full term in office- has a pretty healthy sense of self-worth. While he has also won a special election, the 2006 special election and 2007 general election victories against Sharon Pandak seem like bookends to the same campaign.

One cannot dismiss the hubris of using one general election victory as standing for a statewide run. It is not too far from living The Gov’s biography, who essentially leveraged winning a ward in Richmond to become a statewide candidate.

Still, his approach to the potential candidacy reeks of ego run amok.

First, in the WaPo article Stewart claims he is the “preeminent Republican” in Northern Virginia. This statement seems way over the top. First, John Warner and Tom Davis are still in office, and will be for several months. Second, has Mr. Stewart decided that somehow Congressman Frank Wolf (R-Va 10) doesn’t represent a Northern Virginia district?   Where exactly are the geographic limits of this Northern Virginia Mr. Stewart towers over?

Such comments reflect a devotion to personality and puffing more than a willingness to recognize reality and speak accordingly.

Second, apparently Mr. Stewart feels he is a shining combination of George Washington, Lee Atwater, and Tip O’Neill, the only person with the leadership skills, political moxie, and sharp elbows to make things happen in Richmond. Speaking of the state senate stopping immigration legislation and The Gov’s insistence on Pre-K funding, Stewart said:

“[The Democratic Senate] need someone down there who is going to beat up on them,” he said. “They need me down there to break the bottleneck.”

Wow…the democrats have had the Senate for about five weeks and things are that bad already? We may have a new standard set for hyperbole. 

Then again, maybe not. Discussing Northern Virginia politics, Brother Stewart goes on to say:

“Republicans got creamed in Northern Virginia in 2007, and I held Prince William together and kept it Republican,” Stewart said. “The party needs a shot in the arm. It’s gone stale. It needs vigorous leadership.”

Let’s set aside the obvious flaws in this statement, like how on Stewart’s watch the GOP lost a HOD seat in PWCo, or how The Cooch did not in fact get creamed in 2007. Let’s ignore how skilled candidates normally arrange for otherpeople to say things like this about them. Nonetheless, it is a generally true statement, which leads us to the next question…

Is Stewart ready to go to war with The Cooch? I know that SenKen has been mentioned for AG…which is not the same as LtGov. However, the GOP ticket cannot and will not have two candidates from Northern Virginia on a Gubernatorial ticket if at least one is not already elected to statewide office. Even then it is difficult. We of a certain age remember the 1981 ticket with State Attorney General Marshall Coleman (native of Staunton) running for governor with state Senator Nathan Miller (of Bridgwater) running for Lt. Gov. Since then the GOP has been fairly careful to create geographic balance on the ticket. You are not going to see both Stewart and Cuccinelli on the ticket, and if both file I predict you are going to see Stewart Lt.Gov delegates backing someone like Mark Obenshain for AG, and Cuccinelli loyalists will be backing someone from downstate against Stewart…remember, you heard it here first!

I don’t know how Stewart’s tenure as COB will look this time next year. He can attack Kaine on various funding issues, but Stewart above all is seen as the anti-illegal immigrant guy. Will that issue have legs in a statewide election 21 months from now? In the WaPo piece he goes on about other issues, but let’s not kid ourselves-Stewart got elected on the immigration issue, and he really has not proposed substantive legislation in other areas.

Those who love him for it are balanced by those who don’t. I was struck by the vitriol toward Stewart in the comments section of a Journal Messenger article about the closing of the Old Country Buffet.  The comments not only bemoan the closing of a favored restaurant, but attack Stewart’s policies-at one point labeled “the chest-thumping xenophobia of the Board of Supervisors”-as helping to cause the closing of the restaurant.

This doesn’t sound like the happy praise of a public servant who enjoys overwhelming public support.

I think Mr. Stewart’s comments are ill-timed, and his announcement at best premature.  To date he has been a one trick pony, riding the immigration issue as far as he can with brief breaks to bemoan transportation policy.  He places a heightened and myopic value on his role in party politics while ignoring the failures that have occurred on his watch as well as refusing the recognize the successes of others.  His comments make his nascent candidacy look less like a willingness to serve the public than a desire to feed an ego that has run amok.

If he plans to continue to lead with his ego and follow with his self puffing, then I feel safe saying he shouldn’t waste his time measuring the Lt. Governor’s office for new decorations.  First, comments like this don’t indicate he is on a successful path.  Second, if he is on a successful path, then the current LtGov accommodations are not large enough to house his ego, much less his staff.

2009 looks more and more interesting every day…

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8 thoughts on “Corey Stewart: Ego Run Amok

  1. That was a very well thought out post. Yes, calling himself the ““preeminent Republican” takes plenty of self confidence considering Tom Davis has been in office since 1994 and Frank Wolf has represented NOVA for what will be 28 years I believe. Stewart has not yet served a full term as COB. I do think Stewart could be a very good candidate for Lt. Gov but appearing on cable TV news a few times does not make him the “preeminent Republican” in NOVA.

  2. Bwana:
    “What wanton hubris exists!!” Hey there, good luck Corey, join the fracas and help the Va GOP do what it does best…East Their Young! and Shoot ourselves in the foot!!!

    Take care Bwana,
    BFIV

  3. Preeminent Republican? Wow. That takes some…well…let’s just say there was a bill before the GA to keep ’em off the back of trucks.

    While I’m not a Republican (and wouldn’t shed any tears if Corey left PW), I think that Tom Davis, Frank Wolf, and John Warner aren’t the only ones who should take some offense at Corey “I’m a Transplant to Virginia” Stewart. What about Bob Marshall? What about Cooch? What about some of Stewart’s longer-serving colleagues on the Board of Supervisors.

  4. You kinda have to have a big ego to be in politics!

    That said, Corey Stewart has won in a bigger district than many Delegate or Senatorial districts (from whence many of our LGs and AGs have come). He also has executive experience unlike many of the LGs and AGs. Now I’m neutral in this so far, but I wanted to point these things out.

  5. Ron, there is a difference between ego and hubris, and His Preeminence is walking on H-street.

    And yes, that is his new delta tau chi name.

    You are exactly right…and they have served complete terms, etc. They have also been more than one trick ponies, and shown more than a trifle of respect for others in the same party.

    These other folks you refer to also have enough self control to be careful what they say to a paper like the WaPo. Not even Marhsall Coleman, perhaps the most “self confident” GOP candidate of the last thirty or forty years knew better than to say things like His Preeminence offered up to the WaPo.

    Compare his Post comments with his interview with the Washington Times, where he either controlled himself OR they protected him. Whatever his strengths, this was not an auspicious start…

  6. This is so archetypically what’s wrong with Virginia politics. The man has done nothing except make a good bit of noise and serve a little less than a year and a half in a County that hasn’t made any forward progress since he jumped into the vacuum created by his predecessor’s departure to a national post. Stewart’s MO is to stay a step ahead of disaster. “Keep moving” is a good watchword for this kind of operator. The immigration furor is indeed a force of some sort in the political environment, but I suspect you’re right that its utility will be severely degraded by November 2009. Take that away, and what’s left (besides ego unhampered by self-knowledge)? If he really were motivated by selfless public service to do something about immigration issues, he could run for Congress in the 11th and we’d get a quick reality check on how “preeminent” he really is. No significant aspect of the immigration policy debate will get resolved at the state or local level.

  7. Pingback: Corey Stewart: Do as I Say, Not as I Do « Renaissance Ruminations

  8. Now THAT was enjoyable to read! Corey make a choice to forfeit his common sense for the promise that bashing illegal immigrants would propell him to the forefront of politics. Both he and John Stirrup chose to entertain a false belief that illegal immigration was going to be THE issue in 2008. FAIR and IRLI dished out the anti immigrant propoganda and Corey lapped it up.

    NoVa, when are you going to visit Anti 🙂

    TPWB, we miss you!

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