On Independence Day, Tim Kaine and Corey Stewart campaign for Virginia Senate seat
DALE CITY, Va. (ABC7) —
Independence Day in Dale City, Virginia.
For some, even on this day, in a diverse community, there’s a feeling of a nation divided.
“I feel like we have two very different sides of the country right now,” said Dunice Dale, a mother of two. “Either we agree or we don’t agree.”
Already, months before election day, it’s game on in the Virginia Senate race.
“Whether you’ve been here for eight generations or just came, it’s about for all,” said Sen. Tim Kaine, the Democratic incumbent.
Kaine, a former governor, lieutenant governor, and running mate to Hillary Clinton, is facing off against Republican challenger Corey Stewart, the chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors.
Stewart’s pitch to voters is simple.
“What I’m really here to do is to make their lives better, to improve the economy, to bring back better jobs,” he said.
Stewart, a vocal supporter of President Trump, shocked Virginia’s GOP establishment by winning the party’s Senate nomination.
Three Virginia GOP leaders, including state chairman John Whitbeck, suddenly resigned.
And the GOP’s fundraising apparatus in the Senate, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, declined to make financial donations to the race.
Stewart appears unfazed.
“I don’t really care too much for the establishment,” he said with a half-smile. “They don’t like me very much. I think that’s okay. By election day, we’re all going to get together.”
Kaine says his campaign is about inclusion.
“It’s about a Virginia that works for all,” he said. “It’s about work, the dignity of work, and the power of working people, and then it’s for all, it can’t be for some.”
But can he work with Trump, who has lauded Stewart in his tweets?
Kaine says yes.
“I’ve worked together with the administration on some things. I’ve voted for some of his nominees,” he said. “But if I think he’s wrong for this commonwealth and this country, I’m going to stand up very strongly against him.”
Kaine is quick to point out the company Stewart keeps.
“He hangs out with people, the folks who inspired the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville,” he said. “As he’s been caught, yeah he’s disavowed them, but he knows who these people were when he was hanging around them.”
Stewart staunchly denies he’s a racist or has any sympathies with white supremacists.
“I completely disavow all those ideologies 100 percent,” he recently told a GOP gathering.
Jennifer, a Dale City Trump supporter, says she doesn’t like the notion of a major candidate associating with white supremacists.
But she says she admires Stewart’s willingness to buck the establishment.
“That’s one of the things I like about him,” she said. “He’s honest and he tells people what he thinks.”
But in this Senate contest, Stewart faces an uphill battle.
A recent poll gave Kaine an 18 percent advantage, two-to-one among women voters.
“I definitely know how to put people together,” he said. “And in this time maybe more than most, bringing people together is the key.”
President Trump lost Virginia in the 2016 election by five points.
Nevertheless, Stewart says his loyalty to the Trump White House will pay off in the long run.
“Follow the president, support the president, they will come along, and those poll numbers will begin to change,” he said.
Kaine and Stewart, Democrat and Republican: polar opposites in the political spectrum.
A political divide that will almost certainly continue, to election day in November and beyond.
“I wish we had a middle ground where we could sort of meet together on the issues,” Dade said. “But unfortunately, we’re not.”