The following is the first in a series of interviews Virtucon will be conducting with 2013 GOP statewide candidates.
This interview took place in early June 2012.
Virginia Virtucon: Thank you for agreeing to this interview, Corey. Many of us here at Virginia Virtucon have a long history with you going back more than a decade to before you even made your first bid for office. We’ve closely watched and supported your political career as it took off, first as Occoquan District County Supervisor, then Prince William County Board Chairman and now your run for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia. It’s great to have you with us.
Corey Stewart: Thanks for having me Jim. I appreciate your support over the years.
VV: Let’s start with the basic question – Why do you want to be Lt. Governor? Exactly what do you want to accomplish in that role?
CS: As the leader of the second largest county in Virginia, I have been able to implement a strong conservative agenda. While others talk about conservative principles, I have been able to put them into practice—cutting taxes, cutting regulation, immigration reform. As Lieutenant Governor, I will team with other conservatives to implement conservative solutions for all Virginia.
VV: Lt. Gov. Bolling has carved out a new niche for the post working alongside Gov. McDonnell, turning it into an office with an emphasis on economic development and job creation. Do you see yourself continuing in that vein with either a Gov. Bolling or a Gov. Cuccinelli? Is there a different direction you would want to go in?
CS: I am going to leverage the position as the tie-breaking vote in the State Senate to bring about budgetary reforms and a reprioritization of the state budget. If we don’t increase the portion of funds transportation receives in the state budget, Virginia’s economic development will come to a halt. We need to audit other State agencies just as VDOT was audited. The VDOT audit found an existing $1.5 Billion in funds available for transportation projects. I bet we can find even more savings if we are able to audit other agencies that we can then turn around and invest in such things as transportation and economic development.
VV: Are there any companies or projects in particular that you would like to attract to the Commonwealth? Is there a specific economic vision that you have for Virginia?
CS: Something that I am very familiar with is the burgeoning personalized medicine industry. Right now George Mason University is doing amazing research at their Prince William Campus in this field and I think its something that is really going to take off. Virginia has traditionally played a big role in the defense technology field, but I believe in the near future you’re going to see our state become a magnet for bio-tech. This is something I’m very excited about.
VV: Twenty years ago, Disney was ready to come to Virginia — Prince William County, actually — and build their Disney America theme park thanks to the combined efforts of Govs. Doug Wilder and George Allen. That ultimately fell through for various reasons. Apparently, though, Disney officials still have hopes for building the park one day someplace – obviously not in that location since they sold the land and homes and businesses have been built there. Would you consider trying to lure them back to Virginia for this project at some less controversial location? Perhaps someplace along I-64 between Richmond and Williamsburg where there is the room and basic infrastructure for it?
CS: As I currently do on a consistent basis in Prince William County, I’d be willing to talk to any company, large or small that is considering moving to the Commonwealth. Fortunately the new director of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP), Martin Briley and I have a long history of working together as he was previously the Prince William County Economic Development Director. I’d look forward to working with VDEP to bring new businesses to Virginia, help existing businesses expand, and ultimately create more jobs.
VV: Many people in Virginia know you and Prince William County for the Rule of Law Resolution that the Board passed requiring county police to check the immigration status of anyone who is arrested. As you travel around the Commonwealth are you finding that more people are aware of that than the record that the county has built up in terms of job creation and economic development? How are you balancing these two issues on the campaign trail with voters?
CS: Both the County and I received a great deal of media attention for the rule of law measure, and it is definitely something that has given me a great deal of name recognition. As I travel around the state, I don’t run from what we have accomplished: violent crime is down 50% since we implemented this policy and overall crime continues to drop. I believe that this measure is another record of accomplishment from my time leading the board. I include the rule of law with my other accomplishments of conservative governing: PWC is #1 in job growth in VA, #3 in the nation. We trimmed county spending by $143million, cut taxes, and reduced the size of government. During my time as chairman we’ve received two AAA bond ratings and now have AAA ratings from all three major bond ratings agencies. My candidacy is not about a single issue–it’s about a proven conservatives record of results.
VV: I know that you’re quite the history buff. Frankly, I don’t know how you can be involved in Virginia politics and not be one. You and your wife recently bought a magnificent new home in Prince William County that has quite a bit of history attached to it. What’s more, you got a real bargain on it, picking it up at public auction for what some people were paying for a single-family home in a subdivision during the peak of the market. Could you share a little bit with us about the home and how it came to pass that you decided to buy it?
CS: This home is a piece of American History. It is the oldest residence in Prince William County. George and Martha Washington honeymooned here and Thomas Jefferson spent a summer here. The living history involved with this home is amazing. What attracted Maria and I to the home was that, once you enter the property, you feel like you’re transported back in time. You can imagine our founding fathers on these very grounds. While the home was not inexpensive, I am fortunate enough to have started my own law firm a few years ago and have done well. This house was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I couldn’t help but jump at purchasing it. My family and I can’t wait to enjoy this home and share it with the community.
VV: Speaking of history, Virginia’s General Assembly is the oldest continuous legislative body in the Western Hemisphere. Come January 2014, you stand to be the presiding official over the Virginia Senate. What are the items that you would have on your legislative agenda for the General Assembly to pass?
CS: I am going to be completely focused on issues that spur economic growth in the Commonwealth. There’s always more ways we can lessen the burden on job creators. We need to find additional existing money to invest in infrastructure and streamline Virginia’s regulatory framework.
VV: Your sons have been around politics pretty much their entire lives. Have they started to show any interest in what you do? To what extent will they and your wife Maria be hitting the campaign trail with you?
CS: As they begin to get older, I find them asking more and more questions about politics. Both of my sons are active in youth sports as well as school activities, which keeps them pretty busy. Maria has traveled to many events around the state with me in the past, and as things continue to ramp up, we’ll definitely be hitting the trail together. I couldn’t do this without the support of my family, and I’m extremely grateful they’re supporting me in this endeavor.
VV: Last question for you. You’ve won countywide in Prince William County, Virginia’s second-largest county and the key to winning statewide races, three times now. You run ahead of the rest of the GOP ticket and win even in bad years such as 2006 and 2007 as well as in good ones like 2011. Each time your percentage of the vote increases even though the county’s population has become more diverse. How do you continuously add to your coalition?
CS: I’ve made an effort to get out into the community and meet with groups that don’t traditionally support Republican candidates. You would be surprised by how many people there are who don’t identify themselves as Republican but support our positions on fiscal discipline and family values. By meeting with these groups and developing relationships, I have been able to gain support, particularly from members of the African American and Pakistani communities. This is something that I will continue to do as I travel all over the Commonwealth.
VV: Now here’s your chance to have your say to the voters about anything you like – serious, funny, whatever. The ball is in your court…
CS: We need to come together as a party this summer and fall to make sure Virginia goes Red. The Democrats have a bull’s eye on the Commonwealth, and we are going to have to do everything in our power to make sure we elect conservative Republicans to the White House, Senate, and House of Representatives.
VV: Thanks again for joining us, Corey. It’s always a pleasure. Good luck on the campaign trail.
CS: Thank you Jim