Having a neo-Confederate white supremacist at the top of the state ticket this year has thrown the Republican Party of Virginia into chaos. While some 55% of Republicans nationwide support Donald Trump/Mike Pence's cruel, inhumane policy of separating immigrant children from the parents, for many of the few remaining moderates I knew when I held a position withing the Virginia GOP, Corey Stewart's avoid racism is simply too much. The irony, of course, is that they refuse to admit that the national party is little better except in the level of openness on the party's racism. When Stewart hopefully goes down to a humiliating defeat, one can hope that in Virginia the GOP may begin to realize that its base of Christofascist extremists and white supremacists is viewed with disgust by a majority of Virginia voters and the myth that "true conservative" candidates are the solution to the party's problems. Here are excerpts from the Virginian Pilot:
Corey Stewart's Republican nomination for U.S. Senate from Virginia has prompted an identity crisis within the state GOP, with some donors and activists saying they are so turned off, they are willing to vote for his Democratic opponent, Sen. Tim Kaine.Stewart, chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors, catapulted to the U.S. Senate nomination - and nearly won the gubernatorial primary last year - by celebrating guns and Confederate statues, lambasting illegal immigrants, and associating with white nationalist Jason Kessler and Paul Nehlen, a Wisconsin candidate barred from Twitter because of anti-Semitic and racist posts.
His perch on top of the ticket has roiled Republican circles inside the state. On Saturday, the head of the Virginia Republican Party resigned his post. John Whitbeck declined to say why he was stepping down. "Other political opportunities have arisen for me that I am thinking about pursuing," he told members of the party's governing board at a meeting in Richmond.
Two other party leaders have resigned, but neither will say why. . . . . The Washington Post talked to more than 50 Virginia Republicans about the Senate race and found Stewart's Trumpian antics thrill supporters but turn off traditional donors and outside groups.
Bobbie Kilberg, a northern Virginia fundraiser and veteran of three Republican presidential administrations, said she will not open her checkbook - or home - to Stewart. . . . "I don't have to agree on everything with the people I support . . . but they need to be people with whom I believe I can work, who are reasonable and rational and have a respect for others."
Kaine - with his long Virginia history as a former governor and lieutenant governor, flush campaign account, and national profile - was favored to win in November even before the GOP nominee was chosen.
But Stewart is likely to put the seat further out of reach for Republicans, extending a losing streak for a party that has not won statewide since 2009. The trend line is startling for Virginia, where Republicans held one of its two U.S. Senate seats for 30 years and the other for a dozen years before they lost their grip.
There's already evidence Republican voters are opting out of the Senate contest. In the primary in the 10th Congressional District represented by Comstock, about 2,000 fewer voters - 4 percent - cast ballots in the Senate race than in the congressional race.
The National Republican Senate Committee and the Koch-funded group Americans for Prosperity both said they would not put any resources into the Senate race and the Republican National Committee is focused elsewhere. "Virginia is not high on the list at this point," said Garren Shipley of the RNC.
Stewart's elevation has some lifelong Republicans questioning their political identity. "I am extremely disappointed that a candidate like Corey Stewart could win the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate," former Republican lieutenant governor Bill Bolling tweeted on the night of Stewart's primary win. "This is clearly not the Republican Party I once knew, loved and proudly served. Every time I think things can't get worse they do, and there is no end in sight."
Richard Fox, 28, resigned as a regional chair of the Albemarle County GOP committee days after Stewart won the election, and will vote for Kaine or libertarian Matt Waters. . . . "Abraham Lincoln would be rolling over in his grave if he knew that's what the Republican Party has come to," Fox said.
Many of the party's most active Republicans won't support someone other than Stewart because, under party rules, they would forfeit their positions on the GOP's governing board or on local committees.
"We lost the governorship [in 2013] when we should have won it, and it's just been spiraling down," said former Republican congressman Tom Davis.
David Wasserman, a House analyst at Cook Political Report, said Stewart's message doesn't sell in what he termed "the new Virginia," where Trump lost by 5 percent.
The only way to save the GOP, both in Virginia, is to crush it at the ballot box. Only then will there be a possibility for sanity to save the party or let it meet a much deserved death."The new Virginia is diverse and professional and they see an economy that's working for them," Wasserman said. "They don't agree with the Trump Republican wing's dark portrayal of immigration. They don't have much use for Confederate monuments."