Prince William News
Tue., Nov. 27 - stewart-pledges-major-minority-outreach-for-lg-run
Stewart pledges major minority outreach for LG run
© Gainesville TimesMonday morning quarterbacking is as rampant in national politics as it is in the NFL, only it goes on longer and is generally more vindictive.
For Prince William Board of County Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart, the Republicans' shellacking comes down to one concept: a lack of minority outreach.
"(We) lost because we failed to campaign in minority areas of the country," said Stewart last week during a phone interview.
Stewart is one of three Prince William residents running for statewide office in 2013.
Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) is competing against Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R) for the GOP gubernatorial nomination and state Del. Scott Lingamfelter (R-31st) is facing Stewart and other Republicans to replace Bolling.
The Lake Ridge resident Stewart made specific promises regarding minority outreach that he hopes will stand in stark contrast to the rest of the GOP field in the lead-up to the party's statewide nominating convention in June.
For one, the county chairman pledged to turn out more minority delegates to the convention than any other Republican candidate for office.
He also promised to court religious black voters weekly.
"There will not come a day where I am not spending a good portion of it in the minority areas of the state. I'm going to be spending every Sunday at a different African American church across the state," said Stewart.
The chairman did not limit himself just to churches, either: he included asking for votes at Islamic mosques and campaigning door-to-door as a part of his strategy.
"I am going to be working the minority vote like no Republican candidate has ever done in the Commonwealth of Virginia," said Stewart.
His reasoning, in part, is that "Republicans have more in common with African Americans than Democrats do," citing same-sex marriage as one such issue.
(Exit polls showed that black women in Maryland actually narrowly supported the state legalizing same-sex marriage on Election Day while black men opposed it).
Stewart's strategy, however, does carry risks, something he acknowledged by saying he's willing to bank on his outreach efforts "even if it costs me the election."
By the numbers
Spin aside, exit polls and precinct data show there is at least one indisputable truth from Nov. 6: the Republican Party, as a whole, dramatically underperformed with voters who were not heterosexual white men.
Pres. Barack Obama won at least 70 percent of the vote nationally with four minority groups: African American, Asian, Latino and LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) voters.
Repeatedly, Stewart lambasted Romney's central campaign committee for ignoring minority-heavy areas while concentrating their efforts on white turnout.
For example, the county chairman cited how Romney planned to stop in Haymarket during the home stretch of the campaign before Superstorm Sandy forced him to cancel that event.
"Even when they were trying to come to Prince William, they were going to try to go to the white, strongly Republican part of the county," he said.
According to Stewart, appearing on the Democrats' home turn of eastern Prince William instead would have at least sent a signal to minority voters that Romney wanted their vote.
From his perspective, hyping up the base voters in the Republican-leaning western portion of the county meant that Romney would just be wasting his time encouraging people to vote who already planned to vote for him in the first place.
"Mitt Romney failed to communicate a message to the minority community," said Stewart. "That was the problem right there."
When questioned about Romney stopping in the City of Manassas during the summer, Stewart blew off that decision too as a mistake.
"We told them the City of Manassas is not Prince William County," said the county chairman. "It's not."
Stewart can credibly make the point that he knows how to win in the eastern part of the county. He has never had to do it though in a presidential year. He also had predictably weaker numbers in eastern precincts than western precincts in 2011.
Facing two challengers, a Democrat and an independent, he won more than 50 percent of the vote in 58 out of 76 total precincts in the county, along with a majority of absentee and provisional ballots.
He won a majority of the vote in every western Prince William precinct except Sinclair (Manassas), where Stewart still claimed a plurality.
In the rest of the county, the chairman lost five precincts and won with less than 50 percent of the vote in 12 precincts.
By comparison, Romney lost every precinct in the Potomac, Woodbridge and Neabsco magisterial districts except Quantico.
"I spent more time in 2011 in the eastern end of Prince William County, campaigning in areas I hadn't won before," said Stewart.
Spending less time in western Prince William came down to a simple philosophy: "I was likely to win those areas," he claimed.
Getting to know you
A general rule about voters is that they want their elected officials to understand their problems and feel like those officials and candidates for office listen to them.
However, Stewart opposes key issues of importance to particular minority groups.
Such stances endanger the rest of Stewart's message from falling on deaf ears among an electorate unfamiliar with him outside of Prince William County.
For example, arguing against its affordability, Stewart opposes key aspects of the new federal health care law.
"I am absolutely against Medicaid expansion," said Stewart. "The truth is, this is going to be a disaster. The states are going to have almost no discretion."
When asked why he would rather Virginia opt out of creating its own health care exchange program, which means the federal government will design a program for Virginians instead, Stewart said bluntly, "Let the feds stool in their own cesspool.... Eventually, it's going to be repealed."
This is where Stewart's point of view clashes with the viewpoints of constituencies he seeks to court.
After the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of most of the federal health care law, a poll conducted by Langer Research Associates released on July 3 showed that non-whites favored the high court's decision by a 56 percent to 23 percent margin.
Non-white voters also supported Obama's general health care plans by a 63 percent to 25 percent margin.
Also, a September 2010 report published after the law's passage by non-profit, non-partisan advocacy group Families USA states that approximately 4 million "legally present, non-elderly African Americans will be newly eligible for Medicaid" under such an expansion nationwide.
The expansion "will provide coverage to many African American individuals and families who would otherwise go without quality, affordable health coverage, particularly adults without dependent children," according to the report.
Meanwhile, Stewart also takes a position on immigration that potentially will not sit well with a majority of Latino voters.
He railed against those within his own party that want Republican candidates to "change their position on the immigration issue and embrace immigration reform and moderate on a whole lot of issues. I completely disagree with that."
Citing religious convictions, Stewart also offered unconditional opposition to same-sex marriage.
"I will never support gay marriage. I think it's wrong," he said.
Many Democrats who opposed same-sex marriage like Sen. Mark Warner have won a majority of support from LGBT voters because they are viewed as more likely to support other group-centric issues, such as on housing, adoption and workplace discrimination.
Stewart has not taken a stance opposing GOP orthodoxy on those sorts of issues either.
What he insists on though is that just because he and other Republicans may disagree on various groups, "You still need to ask them for their vote.”
For starters, Stewart explained that "it's up to your field staff to get your base out."
That leaves the candidate to concentrate on winning over new voters.
To Stewart, that doesn't just mean courting typical Democratic constituencies.
Instead, the GOP should focus on developing a better rapport with libertarian-minded voters who supported the presidential candidacy of outgoing U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas).
"On the ground, I see this stuff every day and we are not good at welcoming the Ron Paul folks into our campaigns and into our party," he said, emphasizing the idea of finding common ground even if the two sides disagree on a host of issues.
His pitch to those voters is that "we do agree on one thing: limited government."