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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters.

A Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate who was backed by, and affiliated with, segments of the “alt-right” media nearly won the state’s June 13 gubernatorial primary.

Corey Stewart, chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors, narrowly lost to frontrunner Ed Gillespie, former chairman of Republican National Committee (RNC), by only slightly more than a percentage point.

Stewart, who was Virginia state co-chairman of President Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, heavily courted the “alt-right” during his campaign, which he announced in April 2016. While he was the co-chair, Stewart wrote multiple pieces for “alt-right”-promoting website Breitbart. Shortly after he was fired from his position in October for taking part in a protest against the RNC, Stewart gave an interview to Mike Cernovich, an “alt-right”-affiliated troll who has a history of promoting conspiracy theories. During the interview, Cernovich said that “he calls establishment Republicans ‘cucks’ because “they like to see Trump get screwed over by the media, that’s what they get off on.” Stewart replied, “Yeah, I would agree.” The term “cuck,” short for “cuckservative,” is widely used within “alt-right” circles.

In March, Stewart did a question-and-answer session on the Reddit forum r/The_Donald, an “alt-right”-affiliated forum that has, in tandem with other “alt-right” figures and fake news purveyors, helped spread conspiracy theories and misinformation. Stewart wrote on the forum that he is “opposing the establishment’s handpicked candidate, former Bush guy, RNC chairman, and cuckservative, Ed Gillespie.” The Virginia GOP state chairman criticized Stewart, noting that the term was “used by white nationalists.” r/The_Donald would go on to promote Stewart’s primary campaign, along with 4chan /pol/, another “alt-right”-affiliated forum.

During his campaign, Stewart also criticized the city of Charlottesville’s plan to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, going to rallies to protest the city’s action. He also responded to his critics by tweeting, “Nothing is worse than a Yankee telling a Southerner that his monuments don’t matter.” Richard Spencer, a white nationalist who originally created the term “alt-right,” subsequently led a group of “torch-wielding protesters” in the city to protest removal of the statue. Stewart was the only candidate to not directly condemn Spencer’s protest. Stewart’s stand earned him praise from “alt-right” outlets and figures: the neo-Nazi and “alt-right”-affiliated blog The Daily Stormer wrote that Stewart’s actions showed “how you win the game” and “how we go mainstream,” while Occasional Dissent, a blog run by anti-Semitic writer Hunter Wallace, claimed that Stewart was taking a “stand for Dixie.”

After the close primary election, “alt-right” figures cheered Stewart’s near-upset. Cernovich tweeted that the result showed “GOP globalists” that they’re “all going to have primary challengers.” He also said that Stewart “showed them what one man can do with his populist revolution.” Another “alt-right”-affiliated troll, Jack Posobiec, tweeted, “Gillespie outspent Stewart 5-to-1 and barely won the race. Take note, Establishment.” VDare, another “alt-right”-connected outlet which frequently publishes articles written by white nationalists, claimed Stewart’s “heroic effort” against “useless consultantcuck Ed Gillespie” showed “nationalism lives.”

 

Header image by Sarah Wasko / Media Matters