Stewart to run for lieutenant governor

April 10, 2012

By Wesley P. Hester
Richmond Times-Dispatch

Next year’s high-stakes race for lieutenant governor has its first candidate: Corey A. Stewart, chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors.

Stewart, a Republican who has served as the at-large chairman of Prince William’s board since 2007, will formally announce his candidacy on Wednesday in Woodbridge.

Much rides on what’s sure to be an unusually aggressive battle for the part-time post because of party parity in the state Senate. The lieutenant governor, who serves as the Senate’s president, breaks ties and because of the 20-20 split, ultimately determines which party controls the chamber.

This year, Republican Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling broke 28 tie votes, most along party lines.

In a phone interview Monday, Stewart said the focus of his campaign will be economic growth, jobs and cutting overall state spending while increasing transportation investments.

“Virginia has done a lot well, but the one thing it has failed to do is to address our transportation needs,” he said.

In 2008, Stewart gained recognition for championing the county’s illegal-immigration law, which was briefly the toughest in the country before being altered by the board weeks after passing as concerns of racial profiling arose.

Last year, Stewart considered a bid for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Jim Webb before deciding against running; he then endorsed former Gov. George Allen.

No others have formally declared for the 2013 lieutenant governor’s race, but Aneesh Chopra, a Democrat who recently stepped down as the first White House chief technology officer, is expected to run.

Keith Fimian, a Northern Virginia businessman who twice lost bids to unseat Rep. Gerry E. Connolly, D-11th, was considering a run for the Republican nomination but confirmed Monday that he had decided against it.

“My wife made that request last weekend,” Fimian said by phone, “and my family absolutely comes first.”

Republican Pete Snyder of Alexandria, founder and former CEO of New Media Strategies, is also considering a run. Snyder was tapped last year by Gov. Bob McDonnell to head the Republican Party of Virginia’s coordinated campaign for 2012, focusing on the state’s presidential and congressional contests.

Stewart said he anticipates spending upward of $2 million if there is a primary and as much as $7 million in the general election if he’s the GOP nominee. He said he expects Chopra to be the Democratic nominee.

“He will be a very formidable candidate. He’s very likable, he’s a leader in the technology industry and he will be able to raise gobs of money,” Stewart said, estimating that Chopra could bring in between $10 million to $15 million.