- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 14, 2008

RICHMOND — Prince William Board of County Supervisors Chairman Corey A. Stewart, who engineered the county’s crackdown on illegal aliens last summer, plans to run for lieutenant governor next year.

Mr. Stewart, a Republican, told The Washington Times the job would give him the platform to pressure lawmakers into doing more to crackdown on illegal aliens.

“By running statewide it gives me the bully pulpit to do that,” he said.

While several Republicans are said to be considering bids for attorney general next year, Mr. Stewart, a Minnesota native and Georgetown University graduate, is the party’s highest-profile figure to indicate he is running for the job.

In Virginia, the job of lieutenant governor is largely ceremonial but historically has been used to establish statewide recognition in advance of a gubernatorial run.

He said the early announcement, which he plans to make either later this month or next month, will provide him with time to introduce himself to all regions of the diverse state.

In the unlikely scenario that Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, a Republican expected to run for governor in 2009, seeks re-election, Mr. Stewart said he would end his bid.

First elected to the county board in 2003, the father of two said he also hopes to play a pivotal role in reforming the Republican Party of Virginia, bringing it back to its basic conservative tenets.

“We are pro-life,” he explained. “We are against gay marriage. We are for low taxation and low regulation and the party should never stray from those core values.”

At the same time, he said Republicans must do a better job of addressing problems that have an impact on people”s everyday lives.

He said lawmakers have done an “abysmal job” of improving the state”s transportation network and questions why Gov. Tim Kaine wants to expand pre-school for at-risk 4-year-olds — which Mr. Stewart considers state-sponsored babysitting — when road and rail problems still exist.

He said his conservative philosophy started under the tutelage of a high school debate coach and “I really cemented my conservatism” after a Georgetown study abroad program in Poland in 1990, where he saw the “mass poverty that communism had created.”

“Even to this day you will find the Poles are very conservative in many ways,” he said. “The reason is a government that is too heavy-handed, that taxes their citizens and removes their incentive to produce, eventually will cause misery for everybody.”

Mr. Stewart said he has worked to control residential growth and fight illegal entry in Prince William County.

Last summer the county entered into a partnership with federal immigration authorities — known as a 287(g) agreement — that has resulted in the detention of 393 illegal aliens since July 2007.

Then in October, the county sent a loud message and won national headlines after it passed a controversial crackdown on illegal aliens that included the formation of a new police unit and denial of some minimal taxpayer funded services.

Mr. Stewart, over a matter of weeks, became the darling of Northern Virginia”s anti-illegal-entry movement, and the whipping boy for some liberals and some leaders of immigrant communities.

Asked what he says to people who slam him as a “xenophobe,” Mr. Stewart answered, “Well, I”m not.”

“It is a simple accusation to throw out there and it makes me uncomfortable, but I”m doing the right thing,” he said.

To which he added with a smile, “My wife is an immigrant — legal.”

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