Virginia's U.S. Senate race might cause flashbacks of the 2016 presidential contest as the Republican nomination to challenge Democratic incumbent Sen. Tim Kaine is an ardent supporter of President Donald Trump and says Hillary Clinton will be Kaine’s downfall.
At Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart’s victory party in Woodbridge Tuesday night, supporters started the familiar anti-Clinton chant, “Lock her up.”
“That just might happen,” Stewart replied.
Political analysts and many Republicans believe Kaine, who was Clinton’s running mate in 2016, will keep his seat. But Stewart believes the president's popularity is on the rise and thinks that could lift him into a competitive race.
Tuesday’s primary was Stewart’s third time seeking statewide office but the first time he’s won the chance to run.
Hours after the victory, Trump tweeted congratulations: “Congratulations to Corey Stewart for his great victory for Senator from Virginia. Now he runs against a total stiff, Tim Kaine, who is weak on crime and borders and wants to raise your taxes through the roof. Don't underestimate Corey! A major chance of winning.”
Kaine fired back at Trump, reminding that the president lost Virginia to Clinton and Kaine.
“The president doesn't know anything about Virginia, clearly,” Kaine said. “I think he showed that in 2016, and the tweet shows same thing.”
Stewart is repeating a pledge he made when he launched his campaign to wage a "vicious and ruthless campaign" against Kaine.
“I am going to run a very brutal race to get out the brutal facts and the brutal truth,” he said.
Kaine said that’s not what Virginians want to see.
“That’s not going to help our country do well,” he said. “I think Virginia will stick with an upbeat problem solver who goes to work every day listening to the concerns of Virginians.”
Kaine said his focus moving forward will be the economy, health care and education.
“He’s an isolationist economics guy; I’m an innovative economics guy,” Kaine said. “He’s a slash health care, take it away from millions; I’m for expanding health care.”
Stewart will echo the president's priorities, including tough treatment of illegal immigrants, which Stewart built his reputation on.
And while he'll praise the president, he'll also be talking a lot about Clinton.
“It's going to be the anchor around Tim Kaine's neck,” he said. “Hillary Clinton is going to be absolutely sink Tim Kaine.”
The National Republican Senatorial Committee said this is not a race they plan to focus on or fund.