Virginia Republican Corey Stewart announced Thursday that he will seek the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, challenging former vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine for his seat.
Stewart revealed his plans at his historic home in Woodbridge.
Stewart told Northern Virginia Bureau Chief Julie Carey he's starting so early to tap into the many donors nationwide he says are interested in trying to "knock off" Kaine.
"It's going to take a lot of money to remove him, but there is a lot of interest in removing him," Stewart said.
Stewart said if he becomes the GOP nominee, he's "going to be running a ruthless campaign against Tim Kaine."
"I'm a fighter. It's going to be a vicious race," Stewart added.
In June, the Prince William County Board chairman almost pulled off an upset of Ed Gillespie in his bid to become the GOP nominee for Governor. Stewart only lost by about one percentage point.
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The next day, Stewart said he might challenge Kaine for the U.S. Senate in 2018.
It's unknown who else Stewart might face for the GOP nomination, but there has been speculation that both former Presidential candidate Carly Fiorina and conservative radio host Laura Ingraham could be interested in trying to challenge Kaine.
Stewart said he'd be the strongest GOP candidate because of his proven ability to win in northern Virginia in an important bellwether county -- Prince William.
"I almost won Loudoun County," said Stewart. "I understand what it takes to win here. I've done it (won Prince William) four times in a row countywide. No other Republican candidate considering running for the Senate can say that."
Already some Republicans are critical of Stewart's decision to put a spotlight on the Senate race at the same time as Gillespie's GOP ticket is working to get voter attention on its 2017 campaign.
Bearing Drift's Jim Hoeft writes, "This is the time for Ed Gillespie, Jill Vogel, and John Adams. These constant Stewart interventions in which he hopes to maintain a degree of relevance are tedious and tiresome. What he really ought to be doing is discussing how awesome this Republican ticket is."
When asked about whether President Trump's unpopularity in Virginia could be a drag on him, Stewart said he believes as time goes on the economy will improve, tax cuts and health care reform will take effect, and Trump's image will improve.
Stewart served as Trump's Virginia campaign chairman, but was fired by the campaign last October for publicly clashing with the RNC over what he felt was its lack of support for Trump in the commonwealth.
Senator Kaine has been a vocal critic of the president, and has suggested the investigation into Trump's potential ties to Russia could be moving into the territory of treason.