Dissension in the Ranks: Virginia GOP Chairman Resigns, Fueling Speculation about Corey Stewart

by | Jul 3, 2018 | VIRGINIA POLITICS

John Whitbeck, the chairman of the Virginia GOP, resigned early Saturday afternoon, presumably because he didn’t want the proverbial shit storm of supporting Republican Senatorial Candidate Corey Stewart on his resume. More so, given the bigotry and charlatanism in the Republican Party has not yet returned to Reagan-era levels.

In a subliminal statement posted to the Republican Party of Virginia’s Facebook page, Whitbeck said, “I started this job with a message of party unity being the key to our success. I will end the job the same way. No matter what happens cycle after cycle, Republicans must stand together.”

Naturally, Republicans are emphatically not standing together on this one.

Bill Bolling, former Virginia lieutenant governor under Governors’ Tim Kaine and Bob McDonnell–and a Republican candidate for governor in 2013 himself–tweeted after Stewart won the primary that he was “extremely disappointed that a candidate like Corey Stewart could win the Republican nomination for US Senate.” He went on to say, “This is clearly not the Republican Party I once knew, loved and proudly served. Every time I think things can’t get worse they do, and there is no end in sight.”

John Whitbeck

Stewart will now take on incumbent Senator Tim Kaine in the November midterm elections. His refusal to renounce ties with the white supremacist organizer of Unite the Right, Jason Kessler, along with his “I was Trump before Trump was Trump” comments have earned him derision from both parties. This has led many long-time conservatives, and many other Republicans on the ticket this fall, to not touch Stewart with a ten-foot pole. He has even been eschewed by the ultra-conservative Koch Brothers and their political funding

The National Republican Senatorial Committee, for one, chose not to endorse Stewart after his primary win. Their chairman, Cory Gardner, said they have “no plans” to spend any money on Stewart’s campaign. Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) and Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) were both eager to distance themselves from Stewart; Sen. Cornyn effectively gave the “Who’s that?” response when asked about Stewart, and Sen. Paul said he was “disappointed” in the result of the primary. 

And then there are the incumbent representatives on the Republican ticket in Virginia this fall, all of whom will assuredly stay silent on Stewart until they are forced to make a public comment.  Susan Swecker, the chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Virginia, said that Stewart will bring out the true colors of his fellow Virginia Republicans. “There is no place to hide — you are either running with Corey Stewart and you condone his vile politics, or you don’t,” she said in a statement.

While party divide is the most likely reason for Whitbeck’s resignation, a dismal track record in elections since taking over as chairman in 2015 could also be a factor. Ralph Northam won the gubernatorial election last year by nine points, which was the largest winning margin by a Virginia Democrat since 1985. Democrats also flipped 15 seats in the House of Delegates, which was the biggest electoral shift towards the Democrats since 1899.

The midterm elections this fall will be in many ways a litmus test for the Republican Party in the age of Trump. Virginians will get an opportunity to show the rest of the country just how much they approve of their president with the Kool-Aid drinking Trump acolyte on the ballot this fall.

Mike McCabe

Mike McCabe

Mike McCabe is a Richmond native recently returned home after time spent teaching in Spain, Oregon, Texas, and North Carolina. He is a grad student at VCU and also works as the Richmond director for the international concert series, Sofar Sounds. Mike is a borderline-belligerent supporter of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, likes cold bodies of water, and can often be found walking in Church Hill with his Boston Terrier, Hugo.




more in politics

Rent Control Measures Fail to Progress in Legislative Session

Anti Rent Gouging Bills to Cap Rent Increases Don’t Advance This Session State lawmakers did not advance legislation this session that aimed to slow rising rent prices, although affordable housing remains a big concern for constituents.  Two proposed bills would have...

Direct Artist Funding! Virginia Creatives Want House Bill 642

Virginia has, in recent years, begun supporting a variety of incentive programs and tax breaks for creative individuals and endeavors inside the Commonwealth. Notably, up to this point, are the film incentives with guidelines established by The Virginia Department of...

Gun Laws Hogg the Limelight

Correction: In an email from the communication director for the Virginia Attorney General said that, “Ceasefire Virginia and all of its' marketing, including the TV ads, is being paid for with criminal asset forfeiture funds - no tax dollars are being spent.” In a...

New Amphitheater Threatens Riverfront’s Environment

Original post made on July 17, 2022 by Scott Burger of Oregon Hill News and reposted here with permission. For updated information on the Richmond Riverfront Amphitheater, we wrote about it HERE and HERE When I moved to Richmond in the early nineties, it was a much...

Guns, Gambling, Vaccines & More: MLK Day in Richmond

Martin Luther King Day at the Virginia Capitol featured groups lobbying to get the attention of elected officials about their various causes. The Virginia Citizen Defense League holds their annual event with hundreds of their members showing up. The VCDL is...

Pin It on Pinterest