Prince William Board of County Supervisors Chairman Corey A. Stewart will run for lieutenant governor in 2013, while a potentially formidable adversary will not.
Mr. Stewart, who gained statewide and national prominence in 2007 when the county passed one of the country's strictest crackdowns on illegal immigration, had previously indicated he would run but said Monday he will formally declare his candidacy on Wednesday in Woodbridge.
"I'm working my tail off, I'm traveling 4-5 times a week," he said. "I don't sit around like a potted plant - I'm going to be a very dynamic and engaged lieutenant governor."
Mr. Stewart readily admitted that most people associate him with the controversial crackdown but said job creation would be his focus. He said he's already won support from the state's business community because of the work the county board has done on jobs.
"It is the issue that everybody's concerned about now," he said.
Mr. Stewart had plans to run for the position in 2009 before Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling said he would run for re-election and he toyed with running for U.S. Senate before endorsing former Virginia governor and senator George Allen last fall.
But a matchup between Mr. Stewart and another Northern Virginia Republican, Oakton businessman Keith S. Fimian, will not occur in 2013, a source confirmed Monday. Mr. Fimian had previously indicated interest in the position. Mr. Stewart could still face other competition from within his own party.
"With Fimian's exit from the race, you'll see multiple candidates jump in," predicted one state GOP insider, who said potential candidates had been wary of entering the race because of Mr. Fimian's proven fundraising prowess.
Mr. Fimian's Growth, Opportunity and Prosperity Fund that he launched last fall and used to support Republican candidates for the General Assembly raised more than $400,000 in 2011, including an eyebrow-raising $300,000 in the final two weeks of the third quarter. He outraised Rep. Gerald E. Connolly in their 2010 matchup, $2.9 million to $2.4 million, and basically broke even with Mr. Connolly in the cash dash in 2008.
Mr. Fimian twice came up short at the ballot box against Mr. Connolly, a Democrat. In 2010, he came within less than 1,000 votes of a win.
Also mentioned as a possible candidate is Pete Snyder, who last year left New Media Strategies, a firm he founded in 1999. Mr. Snyder was tapped by Gov. Bob McDonnell to lead the party's statewide fundraising effort in 2012.
Mr. Stewart said he wants to get the nomination wrapped up as quickly as possible, hopefully in the next few months.
"If they wait a few more weeks, this nomination will be as good as secured," he said.
The lieutenant governorship, a part-time job once seen largely as just a stepping stone to the governor's mansion, was given new life by Mr. McDonnell after he was elected in 2009. He made Mr. Bolling a member of his Cabinet and bestowed upon him the title of chief jobs creation officer.
Mr. Bolling, who spent four years with little to do under former Gov. Tim Kaine, a Democrat, praised Mr. McDonnell for taking advantage of the position.
"We've had governors and lieutenant governors of the same party that didn't talk much to each other, so it is very unusual for a lieutenant governor to play a role that Gov. McDonnell has enabled me to play, and I think that's in large part because of the strength of the personal relationship that we have and the strength of the trust that we have," Mr. Bolling, who is running for governor in 2013, said in an interview last month.
And with a 20-20 Democrat-Republican split in the Virginia Senate through at least 2016 - barring any retirements or party shuffles - the lieutenant governor's tie-breaking role in the upper chamber has become that much more significant. Mr. Bolling broke 28 ties during the 2012 session, compared with 19 in his previous six years combined.
On the Democratic side, Aneesh Chopra, the White House's former chief technology officer, has been mentioned as a possible candidate.
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