Voters in the Northern Shenandoah Valley helped Corey A. Stewart win the Republican Party primary over his two opponents Tuesday.
Unofficial results from the region provided by the Department of Elections show that Stewart handily defeated Nick J. Freitas and E.W. Jackson while on his way to earning a place on the ballot in November in a bid to unseat U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, a Democrat.
Statewide, Stewart won 44.86 percent of the votes in the Republican primary compared to Freitas with 43.12 percent and Jackson with 12.02.
Stewart won by wider margins in the valley. Unofficial results showed Stewart received 61.12 percent of the votes in Frederick County compared to Freitas with 23.01 percent and Jackson with 15.87 percent. Stewart received 46.14 percent of the votes in Warren County with the difference split more evenly between Freitas and Jackson – 27.98 percent and 25.87 percent respectively.
Freitas saw stronger support among Shenandoah County voters. Stewart received 51.18 percent of the vote compared to Freitas with 36.11 percent and Jackson with 12.71 percent. Freitas beat out Stewart in the Woodstock and Orkney Springs precinct where he received 47.52 percent and 45.69 percent of the votes respectively.
Stewart, a vocal supporter of President Donald Trump, has come under fire in recent years over comments some people called racist. Stewart has voiced support for maintaining Confederate monuments statewide. Last year, when he narrowly lost the Republican nomination for governor to Ed Gillespie, Stewart attended a news conference with Jason Kessler during the campaign. Kessler later gained prominence for his role in organizing a white-nationalist rally in Charlottesville in which a 32-year-old counter-demonstrator was killed.
The New York Times reported Wednesday that Stewart is distancing himself from Kessler.
“Nobody knew who Kessler was back then,” Stewart said in a Tuesday night interview quoted in the Times. “Certainly I didn’t. I didn’t know he stood for all those horrible things. I want nothing to do with those things.”
Stewart has also worked to separate himself from Paul Nehlen, who has described himself as a “pro-white” candidate while campaigning for the seat of Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican who has decided not to seek re-election.
A video recorded in January 2017 at the Virginia Women for Trump Ball showed Nehlen and Stewart lauding each other. Stewart called Nehlen his “personal hero” and complimented him for challenging Ryan previously for the Republican nomination in the district.
After Nehlen attacked Muslims and Jews in later Twitter posts, Stewart scrapped his friendly view of Nehlen.
The Washington Post reported a few days ago that Stewart said his association with Nehlen was “before he went nuts and started spewing a bunch of stupid stuff. When he started saying all that crazy stuff, I wanted nothing to do with him after that.”
Trump, who lost Virginia to Hillary Clinton, fired Stewart as his campaign manager in Virginia in 2016.