Low-spending GOP Senate Primary May Help Corey Stewart

By PATRICK WILSON Richmond Times-Dispatch

If politics is a contact sport, GOP Senate candidate Nick Freitas has mostly played flag football when it comes to primary rival Corey Stewart.

With just 24 days to go until the June 12 primary, Freitas, a state lawmaker from Culpeper, hasn’t gone on TV and appears to have done little advertising. He sent a fundraising email to supporters on Wednesday asking for money.

“And absentee votes are already being cast, which is why it’s so urgent to ramp-up my TV Ad Blitz and radio ad campaign right away!” the email said.

John Fredericks, the conservative Virginia radio host and CNN contributor, expects low turnout in the Republican Senate primary and thinks Stewart, who retains a base of support from his 2017 run in the GOP primary for governor, is headed for the end zone untouched.

“Corey Stewart is an overwhelming favorite to be the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate. The Nick Freitas campaign, although it’s interesting and he’s a great future candidate, has not really caught fire and there’s no reason not to vote for Corey Stewart if you want change in Washington,” Fredericks said.

“In order to take Corey down, you have to go negative on him. And [Freitas] is not prepared to do that, nor do they want the backlash. They don’t want to alienate his base.”

Stewart, chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, and Freitas, a former Green Beret, are joined on the ballot by E.W. Jackson, a minister from Chesapeake.

The winner gets to run against Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., a former governor and vice presidential candidate who is seeking a second term. All three Republicans have positioned themselves as conservative, pro-Trump candidates who support funding a new wall on the Mexican border, oppose gun control and would ban legal abortion.

Chris LaCivita, a veteran GOP political strategist who favors Freitas in the race, said he didn’t disagree with Fredericks’ analysis.

“The thing is there’s still three weeks left,” he said. “I think that it’s too soon — three weeks in politics is an eternity, number one, and it’s too soon to proclaim Corey Stewart the winner.”

He added: “There will be plenty of Republicans turning out to vote against Corey Stewart. The question is, how many are actually going to turn out and vote for Nick Freitas?”

As of March 31, the most recent date for which data are available, Freitas had $251,694 in cash on hand compared with $140,502 for Stewart and $35,495 for Jackson, according to their Federal Election Commission filings. Kaine is raising millions.

Jackson, the party’s 2013 candidate for lieutenant governor against Democratic winner Ralph Northam, has a base of evangelicals but little cash to get out a message.

Freitas is in his second term in the House of Delegates. He has the endorsement of the National Rifle Association in the Senate race. Earlier this year, in a floor speech opposing gun control, he stunned African-American Democrats, saying their party was responsible for slavery, segregation and Massive Resistance.

Read the full report from the Richmond Times-Dispatch.