A decision by Carly Fiorina, the former GOP presidential hopeful, not to run for U.S. Senate from Virginia next year leaves Corey Stewart, the bombastic Prince William supervisor, as the sole declared candidate for the GOP nomination.
Stewart, who came close to winning the party nomination for governor this year after running on a platform dedicated to protecting Confederate statues, said Fiorina’s absence from the Senate race clears the way for him to challenge Sen. Tim Kaine (D).
Several political observers agreed.
Upon hearing of Fiorina’s announcement, Tom Davis, a former Republican congressman from northern Virginia who is known as a moderate, said: “That makes Corey the undisputed frontrunner at this point. That wraps it up.”
“I do think he’ll be tough to beat in a primary or a convention,” Davis added. “The Republican Party has moved from the country club to the country.”
John Fredericks, host of a conservative radio show and co-chair of Trump’s Virginia campaign after Stewart was dismissed from that role, called Stewart the “prohibitive favorite” barring a “political earthquake.”
Other potential hopefuls may be hesitant to “go through the Corey Stewart buzz saw and take on a somewhat popular incumbent,” Fredericks said.
The general election, however, may turn on whether Republicans can beat Democrats in statewide elections this year. All five of the statewide offices are currently held by Democrats. If Ed Gillespie can reverse the trend and win the governor’s race, more Republicans may enter next year’s race for Senate.
Kaine downplayed Fiorina’s decision.
“Republicans may still have a primary – and it would be competitive – so we will let that play out,” campaign spokesman Ian Sams said in a statement.
Kaine, a popular former governor and Hillary Clinton’s vice presidential running mate in 2016, is seeking a second term in the Senate. A February poll found him with a double-digit lead over potential Republican challengers, but that was before Stewart declared his candidacy.
Read full report from The Washington Post.