In Virginia's gubernatorial race last year, Republican officials weren't especially concerned about their primary contest. Ed Gillespie was expected to cruise to an easy victory, easily dispatching Corey Stewart, who served as the Trump campaign's chairman in Virginia, and who was running an explicitly pro-Confederate platform.
Indeed, as Slate's Jamelle Bouie noted at the time, Stewart "was running as a voice for Trumpism, railing against 'illegal immigration,' condemning 'transgender bathrooms,' slamming Gillespie as a 'cuckservative,' and centering his campaign on an aggressive defense of the state's Confederate monuments and memorials."
Stewart lost that primary, but he came very close, which only emboldened him further. The right-wing Republican soon after launched a Senate bid, and this primary turned out better for the Trump acolyte.
In Virginia, Corey Stewart, a Trump-supporting, immigration hardliner who campaigned on keeping up Confederate monuments, narrowly won the GOP U.S. Senate primary, and will go up against incumbent Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine this fall.
With 100 percent of Virginia precincts in, Stewart, the chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors, had 44.9 percent of the vote, compared with state Delegate Nick Freitas, a former Green Beret who'd received backing from a key conservative group, with 43.1 percent.
Stewart's victory could be a gift for Kaine in blue-leaning Virginia, where a Republican hasn't won a statewide race since 2009. Stewart campaigned as an ardent supporter of the Second Amendment and even revived false "birther" allegations that Barack Obama wasn't born in the U.S.
To get a flavor of what Stewart brings to the table, note that when he launched his campaign, he declared that "the era of the kinder, gentler Republican is over."
His candidacy, Stewart added, would be "vicious."