Corey Stewart is the chairman of the Prince William County, Virginia Board of Supervisors, a post he has held since January of 2007. He is also the chair of Donald Trump’s Republican presidential campaign for the whole state of Virginia. And he has now announced that he will be running for governor of Virginia in 2017.
So he is a big noise in right wing politics in Prince William (where I live) and aspires to be a big noise nationally. We had better start paying attention to him.
Corey Stewart is a hater, and the people he hates worst in the world are undocumented immigrants. So his association with Trump is a natural fit. In 2008, Prince William County, at his instigation, passed the first law in the country requiring police to check the immigration status of anybody they stopped, even for minor traffic infractions, and hand them over to federal immigration authorities if they could not prove their legal right to be in the country. This led to accusations of racial profiling, and the Prince William County Board of Supervisors subsequently softened the law a bit, without repealing it entirely. But Stewart was unapologetic, claiming his law had radically reduced crime in Prince William County, presumably by driving Latino people out. Careful analysis of the crime data showed, however, that Stewart’s claims were either mistaken or concocted.
Prince William County, in Northern Virginia to the southwest of Washington D.C., contains some wealthy, almost all white neighborhoods, but also is home to African American, Latino and Asian people. In the eastern part of the county, near the Potomac River, and also in the larger towns of Manassas and Manassas Park, one finds concentrations of minority and low and middle income people, including a lot of immigrants from El Salvador and other Spanish-speaking countries, and also some from Africa. The better-off whites in Prince William County trend Republican in the elections, but the minorities trend Democratic. Non-citizens, with or without immigration papers, cannot vote. But their citizen spouses, adult children, other relatives, friends, neighbors and co-workers can vote. This is evidently seen as a threat by people such as Stewart.
So it comes as no surprise that this past Monday, Stewart posted a rant on his Facebook page in which he connected the egging of a Trump supporter by anti-Trump protesters in San Jose, California last Friday to his opposition to undocumented immigrants. There is no evidence whatsoever that the people who egged the woman were undocumented immigrants, or even immigrants. (Undocumented immigrants, for the most part, stay as far as they can away from any protest that might turn violent, for the simple reason that if they are arrested they are very likely to be deported, with dire consequences for themselves and their families.)
But facts did not stop Corey Stewart from trying to connect the immigration issue with the egging incident. He suggested that incidents like this happen because the Obama and Bush administrations have been too slack in cracking down on “illegal immigrants” who, besides hitting people with raw eggs, take away the jobs of U.S. citizens. He promised that if Trump is elected president and he is elected governor of Virginia, he will kick all undocumented immigrants out of the state, just as he kicked “their asses” out of Prince William County.
Stewart was criticized by the leadership of the Democratic Party in Virginia for this scapegoating rant, but it is unlikely that he will either change his views or his obnoxious rhetoric. He will be a speaker at a Trump election rally in Richmond, the Virginia state capital, on Friday, and it is safe bet he will continue his odious anti-immigrant bloviations, for birds of a feather flock together.