HERRING: Supporting the party nominee is vital for a Republican win in November

Non-endorsements only serve divide and fracture the party

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Stewart speaking at a debate held at the Batten School in March. 

Cassandra Plemons | Cavalier Daily

A few weeks ago Republicans across the Commonwealth went to the polls to pick a challenger to face Democratic incumbent Senator Tim Kaine (D-Va.) in the fall. After a close vote, the results were announced in favor of Prince William County Supervisor and prominent Trump supporter Corey Stewart. Many moderate conservatives and former well-known Republicans have denounced Stewart as divisive, preferring the establishment candidate in the race Delegate Nick Freitas (R-Culpeper). 

Former Republican Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling exemplified these sentiments when he stated that “This is clearly not the Republican Party I once knew, loved and proudly served” in his tweet criticizing Stewart after his primary victory. Similar perspectives have been expressed since Stewart’s victory, seemingly calling for a complete rejection of Stewart and his campaign. One of these is the non-endorsement of Stewart recently released by the College Republican chapter at the University, of which I am a member. 

I disagree with this non-endorsement for a number of reasons. The first is that nothing good can come of it — it only harms the Republican Party in the November election. The action taken by the CR’s and other Republicans only continues the split within the party. This divide in the party diminishes Stewart’s probability of victory against Senator Kaine.

In fact, this fissure is exemplified by the Executive Board labeling who is and who is not a good candidate for the party. They assert that Denver Riggleman, the conservative distillerist and former Air Force intelligence officer running for the House in the 5th District, is “a fantastic candidate” yet they refuse to endorse Stewart, after “evaluating” him. The thing is, there is no evaluation sheet for a good or bad candidate, whether one likes or dislikes a candidate is all based on his or her perception of the candidate. Hence, this whole non-endorsement is based on the opinions of the Executive Board of the CR’s. Accordingly, there is no guarantee whether this non-endorsement is representative of the sentiment of the entire club or just its members on the Executive Board. 

Non-endorsements do not help the Republican Party, they just further divide and fracture it. This does not seem to occur often in the Democratic Party — it is for this reason that I admire them. Take for example the very contentious 2008 primary battle between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Even after this harsh internal struggle, Democrats came together and voted in one voice to elect Barack Obama as the 44th president of this country.  

Another good example is the intense Democratic primary battle for the Virginia governorship last year between moderate Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam and former Rep. Tom Perriello (D-Va.), a Bernie Sanders-esque candidate. Northam ended up winning the nomination, defeating Perriello by 11.84 percent of the vote. Democrats then rallied rallied around Northam and voted him into office over Republican Ed Gillespie. 

Sadly this cohesion is not always present in the Republican Party. Instead of coming together, some conservatives always seem to put their feelings before the betterment of the party and its political agenda. If the goal is truly to help “send Virginia’s Republican Congressional delegation back to Washington to continue their incredible work” — as the College Republican Executive Board stated in their recent press release — then they should support all the candidates on the Republican ticket, regardless of their personal feelings toward those on the ballot and endorse them. 

In the case of Stewart and these vocal non-endorsements from within the party, it is obvious that anti-Stewart Republicans are putting their feelings for the candidate before the betterment of the Virginia Republican Party and the national GOP as a whole. With the College Republicans adding their non-endorsement to the list of establishment non-endorsements of Stewart, they are alienating Republicans and conservatives on grounds and in the 5th district who support Stewart’s platform and his pro-Trump views. Instead, the new College Republican Executive Board should be trying to reconcile different conservative voices within the party on Grounds to help strengthen our collective voice within the party and around the University. 

I agree with President Trump that Stewart has a good chance of winning the upcoming Senate election. His strong showing in heavily Democratic Northern Virginia against Freitas could be a sign of a possible win against Kaine in November. However, if this is to be the case, every Republican and conservative in the Commonwealth must support the nominee. It is vital to Stewart’s chances of winning in November and vital to increasing the number of Republicans in the Senate who will work to continue this era of conservative governance. To do otherwise would be throwing in the towel before the race has even begun. 

Roger Herring is a fourth-year student in the College of Arts and Sciences.

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