- The Washington Times - Friday, March 28, 2008

Virginia Republicans say Prince William Board of County Supervisors Chairman Corey A. Stewart has a bright political future, despite his decision this week to bow out of the race for lieutenant governor.

“He has done a good job out in Prince William; I can’t imagine him not moving up the ranks when the time becomes appropriate,” said Becky Stoeckel, chairman of the 11th District Republican Congressional Committee.

Mr. Stewart, a Republican who engineered the county’s aggressive crackdown on illegal immigration last summer, said Wednesday that he is “not going away.”

“The only thing I really can do is prepare for an eventual run,” he said. “That includes raising money and traveling the state and discussing illegal immigration and what Prince William County has done and demonstrate how it has worked and what localities can do. We really have a great success story. It is not just rhetoric; we are actually getting things done.”

Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, a fellow Republican, announced this week that he will run for re-election rather than for governor next year. Mr. Stewart then released a statement saying he would not seek Mr. Bolling’s job.

“I was excited about my own run for lieutenant governor and was fully prepared to do the work necessary to serve the public in that role,” Mr. Stewart said. “However, from the beginning of my exploration of this candidacy, I have said that if Bill Bolling decides to run for re-election rather than for governor, he will have my full support.”

Mr. Bolling said Mr. Stewart is “doing a great job in Prince William County.”

“And if he keeps doing that, I think he has a very promising career in the Republican Party — either in Northern Virginia or the state as a whole, whichever avenue he chooses to pursue,” Mr. Bolling said.

The county budget is keeping Mr. Stewart busy for now. The board agreed this week to propose a 22-cent increase in the average property-tax rate to generate revenue lost to problems in the housing market.

The proposed budget includes $6.4 million to fund an ordinance that requires county police officers to check the immigration status of suspects. Mr. Stewart said 462 illegal immigrants have been transferred to the federal government for deportation since July.

The board chairman continues to garner headlines nationwide for the instrumental role he played in enacting some of the most aggressive local ordinances in the country against illegal immigration. Backing those efforts is Greg Letiecq, president of the group Help Save Manassas and a co-founder of Save the Old Dominion.

“With the success of that policy initiative, Corey Stewart’s political capital will only grow, putting him in good position to seek positions of greater responsibility and impact in Virginia in the future,” Mr. Letiecq said.

For weeks, Mr. Stewart was mentioned as a front-runner to replace U.S. Rep. Thomas M. Davis III, a Virginia Republican who announced this year that he would not seek re-election, but Mr. Stewart chose not to run for the 11th Congressional District seat.

Last month, he told The Washington Times that he would run for lieutenant governor and hoped to use that position as a platform to pressure lawmakers into taking more action to crack down on illegal immigration.

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