U.S. Se­nate can­di­dates stump in Rap­pa­han­nock

Tim Kaine con­fi­dent cau­tious as polls give him wide lead A fi­nal push if not fi­nal breath from Corey Stewart

Rappahannock News - - FRONT PAGE - By JoHn Mc­caslin Rap­pa­han­nock News staff

Com­pared to more highly popu-lated pock­ets of Vir­ginia, Rap­pah-an­nock County pro­vides po­lit­i­cal can­di­dates few votes come elec­tion time, but that didn’t stop in­cum-bent Demo­cratic Sen. Tim Kaine and his Repub­li­can challenger Corey Stewart from stump­ing in Lit­tle Wash­ing­ton and Sper­ryville in re­cent days.Step­ping from his pickup truck upon ar­rival at Gadino Cel­lars for a Thurs­day evening fundrais­ing ap­pear­ance, one would never guess Stewart was lag­ging be­hind Kaine in the polling. Re­ally lag­ging.

“There are no re­cent polls,” an up­beat Stewart told the Rap­pa­han­nock News be­fore head­ing in­doors to greet a large and en­thu­si­as­tic crowd of sup­port­ers sport­ing smiles as wide as his. “The polls that were done were by uni­ver­si­ties, and they were not of likely vot­ers. So we think that it’s close. I think the Kaine cam­paign thinks it’s close.”

Kaine ar­gues dif­fer­ently in a sep­a­rate in­ter­view with this news­pa­per on Tues­day in Sper­ryville, al­though he’s tak­ing no chances.

“That’s not right,” the se­na­tor said of Stewart’s rea­son­ing on the polls, some giv­ing Kaine any­where from an 18 to 23 per­cent lead. “Any­body who is do­ing polling is usu­ally polling likely vot­ers, which is, a) they’re reg­is­tered and, b) they have a his­tory of ac­tu­ally vot­ing. Any poll has a mar­gin of er­ror, but they don’t just call willy-nilly. They’re polling likely vot­ers.

“And we do a lot of polling, too,” Kaine added. “And I use the same peo­ple to poll for me I’ve used for 20 years and they’ve never given me an in­ac­cu­rate poll in any race I’ve been in. But I’ve learned polls are about pref­er­ences and elec­tions are about en­ergy, so pref­er­ences at the end of the day aren’t what you want on Novem­ber Sixth, you want en­ergy. So we’re re­ally fo­cused on en­ergy, things like registrations — that shows you en­ergy; early vot­ing — that shows you en­ergy; the size of crowds — en­ergy.

“For a Demo­cratic event in Rap­pa­han­nock County, put to­gether on rel­a­tively short no­tice, this is a pretty good crowd,” he said of the Head­mas­ter’s Pub gath­er­ing.

Stewart, on the other hand, has grown ac­cus­tomed to be­ing un­fazed by poll num­bers, plus other hur­dles placed be­fore his can­di­dacy. He’s had no choice. The four-term chair­man of the board of su­per­vi­sors in Prince Wil­liam County has been in sur­vival mode ever since the lead­er­ship of his own Repub­li­can party — Rich­mond north to Wash­ing­ton, D.C. — sought to block his con­tro­ver­sial nom­i­na­tion.

“I think so,” Stewart replied, when asked if there was a chance of turn­ing his can­di­dacy around at this late stage, even though at vir­tu­ally ev­ery cam­paign stop his op­po­si­tion — much of it the me­dia, he said — has ac­cused him of hold­ing alt-right, unite-theright, anti-Semite sym­pa­thies, which he’s de­nied.

“They’ve called me ev­ery­thing — ev­ery bad word un­der the sun,” Stewart said. “But that’s part of it. You’ve just got to live with the me­dia, and the ma­jor me­dia is pretty bi­ased. But I’ll tell you some­thing, when I’m on the ground and I’m talk­ing to peo­ple — in fact, un­friendly au­di­ences — these things that the me­dia has said about me never come up. Which means that even tra­di­tional Democrats aren’t buy­ing this B.S.

“But I’m a Repub­li­can, so I’ve got­ten used to it over the years,” he con­tin­ued. “Peo­ple can look through the bias I think.”

While Kaine is given ku­dos for work­ing across the aisle on Capi­tol Hill, the se­na­tor doesn’t see some­body as out­spo­ken and agenda-driven as Stewart work­ing along­side Democrats if the op­por­tu­nity were to present it­self.

“I don’t think it would be a pri­or­ity of his,” Kaine said of his op­po­nent. “He name-calls me, but he name-calls Repub­li­cans as much as me. What you find when you do that is no­body wants to work with you. He’s kind of a cau­cus of one.”

If not se­na­tors, Stewart cer­tainly has the sup­port of Don­ald Trump, al­though the pres­i­dent’s kept his dis­tance from the Repub­li­can’s con­tentious cam­paign. Stewart is un­wa­ver­ing in his sup­port for the pres­i­dent, de­spite hav­ing been re­moved two years ago as cochair­man of Trump’s Vir­ginia pres­i­den­tial cam­paign af­ter join­ing a pro-Trump women’s demon­stra­tion out­side Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee head­quar­ters, in­fu­ri­at­ing the anti-Trump lead­er­ship in­side.

“I was Trump be­fore Trump was Trump,” Stewart de­clared then, and while in Rap­pa­han­nock he dou­bled down in his praise of the pres­i­dent, who tweeted fol­low­ing the can­di­date’s pri­mary vic­tory over Nick Fre­itas: “Don’t un­der­es­ti­mate Corey, a ma­jor chance of win­ning!”

“I think the pres­i­dent’s been do­ing a great job,” Stewart told the News. “I’m fully in line with him on build­ing the bor­der wall, re­mov­ing dan­ger­ous crim­i­nal il­le­gal aliens, mak­ing the tax cuts per­ma­nent, re­build­ing our mil­i­tary, sup­port­ing our veter­ans. And Tim Kaine has been an au­to­matic ‘no’ to vir­tu­ally ev­ery­thing the pres­i­dent has pro­posed.

“I think Kaine is still bit­ter about 2016,” he added. “But I think by and large Vir­gini­ans can see the re­al­ity that Pres­i­dent Trump, even if they didn’t sup­port him in 2016, he’s done a very good job for the coun­try.”

Kaine, who was at Hillary Clinton’s side when the Demo­cratic ticket came up short against Trump and his vice pres­i­den­tial run­ning mate Mike Pence, gave us his take on the pres­i­dent’s stand­ing mid­way through his first term, from con­cerns about his un­pre­dictable gov­ern­ing — voiced by Democrats and Repub­li­cans alike — to his share of “en­ablers” on Capi­tol Hill.

“I have great re­la­tion­ships with Repub­li­cans,” Kaine said. “Out of 51 Repub­li­cans right now there are one-third who truly be­lieve Trump is fan­tas­tic. So I set them aside. Two-thirds are deeply wor­ried about Pres­i­dent Trump, and they have been from the first day — emo­tion­ally volatile, the kind of peo­ple he hangs around with, eth­i­cally com­pro­mised . . .

“But they’re in a sit­u­a­tion where their most re­li­able vot­ers love Pres­i­dent Trump. Pres­i­dent Trump’s [ap­proval] num­bers will never go be­low about 35 per­cent. That’s zero of my vot­ers but that’s 70 per­cent of their vot­ers — ‘I worry about this guy, but if I cross him I’m go­ing to alien­ate my vot­ers and they will desert me.’

“So of the two-thirds that are wor­ried about Trump, which is 35 or 36 of them, there’s only 5 to 10 who will ever speak up, while the oth­ers are afraid of the Trump voter.”

With less than two weeks to go be­fore Elec­tion Day, Stewart will no doubt ben­e­fit from Trump’s Vir­ginia sup­port­ers, even if the pres­i­dent and Pence took just 44 per­cent of the state’s popular vote com­pared to 50 per­cent for Clinton and Kaine.

Not present for the se­na­tor’s Sper­ryville ap­pear­ance was 5th district Demo­cratic con­gres­sional can­di­date Les­lie Cock­burn, who makes her home in Rap­pa­han­nock. Cock­burn was cam­paign­ing in Danville Tues­day, as polls have her run­ning neck and neck with Repub­li­can challenger Den­ver Rig­gle­man.

“I’m amazed at how well she’s do­ing,” Kaine told this news­pa­per of Cock­burn. “It’s made me check my pre­con­cep­tions a bit. I tend to re­ally fa­vor a pri­mary to do a nom­i­na­tion. The fact that the fifth did the cau­cus; I’ve never been in a cau­cus, I’ve only been in pri­maries. But the cau­cus ad­van­tages those who in ev­ery county can put to­gether a re­ally solid core of vol­un­teers, and that’s why Les­lie won. She was able to do that.

“That turns out to have in­cred­i­ble util­ity then when you switch into a gen­eral elec­tion,” he con­tin­ued. “This is a ger­ry­man­dered district that is red — of the com­pet­i­tive races in Vir­ginia it is the red­dest of the ones that I would say are com­pet­i­tive. But the way she won the cau­cus, built up the in­fra­struc­ture that she has.

“I still say we all ei­ther should run un­op­posed or run scared. I’m run­ning scared, and I hope she is too,” said Kaine. “But there are a num­ber of fea­tures in this race that make it doable for her.”

BY RAY BOC

Sen. Tim Kaine, who is run­ning for re­elec­tion, ad­dresses county res­i­dents at Head­mas­ter’s Pub in Sper­ryville on Tues­day.

BY JOHN MC­CASLIN

Repub­li­can can­di­date Corey Stewart (right) is greeted by a sup­porter upon ar­rival at Gadino Cel­lars last Thurs­day evening.

BY RAY BOC

Vir­ginia Sen. Tim Kaine, who is run­ning for re­elec­tion, ad­dresses Rap­pa­han­nock res­i­dents at Head­mas­ter's Pub in Sper­ryville on Tues­day, less than two weeks be­fore Elec­tion Day.

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