RICHMOND — GOP gubernatorial nominee Ed Gillespie has avoided primary opponent Corey Stewart, who once slammed him daily until Gillespie edged Stewart in June. But Jill Holtzman Vogel, the GOP's nominee for lieutenant governor, isn't shy about reaching out to Stewart's supporters.
Stewart introduced Vogel on Sunday at a megachurch in western Prince William County and she will be the special guest at the Corey Stewart Fall Festival on Saturday.
"I have gone everywhere, and I mean everywhere," Vogel, a state senator from Fauquier County, said Monday when asked about her alliance with Stewart, whose base is considered more conservative and rambunctious than establishment Republicans. "I'm trying to build as big and inclusive and cast as broad a net as possible."
Stewart, chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, is an announced Republican candidate for the 2018 nomination to challenge U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va. His annual fall festival is a fundraiser in Prince William and this year includes music, barbecue and a moon bounce for kids.
Gillespie, who appears to be in a close race with Democrat Ralph Northam, should seek out or embrace Stewart, who insulted Gillespie during the primary by calling him a "cuckservative," an insult used by right-wingers for conservatives they believe have sold out.
Stewart centered his campaign around protecting Confederate monuments and appeared at an event in Charlottesville with Jason Kessler, the man who coordinated the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville in August that turned deadly.
"Jill asked and I absolutely am delighted to have her there," Stewart said of his upcoming fundraiser. "If Ed wanted to come or [GOP candidate for attorney general John] Adams for that matter they could come and they could speak and we'd roll out the red carpet for that too."
While Gillespie hasn't asked Stewart for an official endorsement, too much has been made of their relationship, Stewart said.
"Ed Gillespie, he'll make a great governor," Stewart said. "I don't want Northam in there and I'm encouraging everybody to vote for Ed."
The campaign of Vogel's Democratic opponent, Justin Fairfax, issued a statement from spokeswoman Lauren Zehyoue:
"Jill Vogel wants to pretend she’s a moderate but she’s too extreme for Virginia. Corey Stewart ran one of the most divisive campaigns in recent memory and was fired for being too extreme even for Donald Trump. Vogel is a career politician standing against policies most Virginians support such as expanding Medicaid."