UPDATED: It was close, but the third time was the charm for Corey Stewart.
After unsuccessfully seeking the GOP nomination for lieutenant governor in 2013, and the party nod for governor last year, Stewart has won a statewide primary.
With 100 percent of the vote reported, he collected the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate with 136,410 votes, or 44.86 percent of the total Tuesday night, according to unofficial results.
Stewart bested Culpeper Del. Nick Freitas, R-30th, who took 43.12 percent or 131,131 votes. E.W. Jackson, a minister from Chesapeake, came in third with 36,537 votes or 12.02 percent.
Now Stewart, the chairman of the Prince William Board of Supervisors since 2006, will take on U.S. Sen Tim Kaine, a Democrat, in November.
At his election night party at the Electric Palm restaurant in Woodbridge, Stewart promised to unite the coalition that elected President Trump in 2016.
“We will win working men and women across the state. We will restore our values. We will restore our economy. We will restore our border and we will restore America,” Stewart said to cheers from the crowd, which numbered more than 100.
Stewart, 49, said earlier Tuesday that if he were to win, it would be because he ran a very aggressive race and tied himself to President Donald Trump.
“Our whole message [at the] beginning of the campaign was to identify myself as a fighter and a strong supporter of President Trump, and I think, you know, my team did a good job of getting that message across,” Stewart said after he voted with his wife, Maria, and his oldest son, Isaac. It was the first time voting for Isaac Stewart, 18.
The message Corey Stewart brought to the campaign trail included talk of illegal immigration, historical monuments and armed security in schools.
Illegal immigration has been a signature Stewart issue for years. He championed a Prince William County regulation, passed in 2007 and put into practice in 2008, that requires police to check the immigration status of anyone arrested on criminal charges.
As a U.S. senator, Stewart said he would work with Trump to check the immigration status of those arrested in every locality and remove illegal aliens from the population.
Stewart also has come to be associated with advocating for the preservation of Confederate monuments, and he said that, if elected, he would sponsor legislation to amend the Antiquities Act of 1906 to federally protect historical monuments.
On school security, Stewart said shootings are occurring because of a breakdown in society that began with taking God out of the schools.
On the campaign trail, Stewart has said putting up “gun-free zone” signs at schools isn’t an effective way to protect students.
The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun, Stewart said, pointing out that Prince William will launch a pilot program July 1 to place five armed civilian security guards in some of the county’s 61 elementary schools in addition to school-resource officers, sworn police personnel who patrol the middle and high schools.
It’s a system Stewart said should be replicated across the country.
Freitas in Warrenton: ‘Let’s win in November.’
Freitas, 38, is in his second term in the Virginia House and was endorsed by several prominent names. U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, and former Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, backed him, as did Dels. Michael Webert, R-18th, and Mark Cole, R-88th, who represent Fauquier County, and 5thCongressional District GOP nominee Denver Riggleman.
Freitas was also the choice of local Republican activists Martha Boneta and Rick Buchanan. He won Fauquier and Culpeper counties when the vote was counted Tuesday night.
At minutes before 9 p.m. an ever-smiling Freitas addressed a large group of supporters who had gathered at McMahon’s Irish Pub and Restaurant in Warrenton.
“Stewart has won,” he began to a crowd of sighing, “Nos!”
“But, I want you to know that we started in relative obscurity and came within 1 percent, that’s unheard of and that’s because of you and all the others like you,” he said.
“I said from the very beginning that this race was never about a candidate…We started Liberty Rising…It’s about a movement and we’re just as strong now as we were 10 minutes ago…you’ve got another candidate to get behind in Denver Riggleman,” stressed Freitas as he asked Riggleman to join him and his wife Tina at the microphone. Riggleman recently won the GOP nomination in the 5thDistrict.
“You need to take your energy and passion and get Riggleman, Dave Brat and others across the finish line in November,” Freitas added. “We’re not done, we’re just getting started…let’s win in November.”
A national security consultant, Freitas said during the campaign that he believes in strengthening the military but that the U.S. shouldn’t serve as the world’s police force.
Also a Trump supporter, Freitas said he believes in lowering taxes and making the recent Trump administration tax cuts permanent. Freitas is up for re-election to his delegate seat next year.
Reach Jonathan Hunley and Anita Sherman at email@example.com.