Who’s financing Corey Stewart’s campaign?

Who’s financing Corey Stewart’s campaign?
Corey Stewart is looking to unseat Sen. Tim Kaine.

Corey Stewart’s fundraising troubles are well established at this point.

His opponent, Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine has raised more than $20 million for his reelection campaign. Meanwhile, Stewart’s Senate campaign has so far been able to pull in just over $2 million, eschewed by major Republican donors amid constant controversy and past associations with white supremacists, leaving Stewart unable to mount a meaningful advertising push in the closing days of the race.

That break is evidenced by the fact that there is no overlap between Stewart’s top 20 contributors and the major donors to the GOP’s past two candidates for Senate, Virginia Mercury reports.

So who’s stepped up to back Stewart’s campaign where traditional interests have fled?

His campaign has fallen back on funding sources that are more common in local politics — a mishmash of developers and other business interests in Prince William County, where Stewart chairs the Board of County Supervisors.

According to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics:

  • He collected $20,000 from the family of Art Silber, who owns the Potomac Nationals, a Minor League Baseball team that was working on a stadium deal in the county.
  • He raised a total of $32,400 from executives at Idi Group Companies and Herb Campbell Investments — real estate developers with interests in and around the county.
  • And he collected $12,700 from the family that owns Holtzman Oil, which distributes heating oil, gas and propane in Northern Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley.
  • The one donor among his top five supporters with no Northern Virginia roots is Nicewonder Group, a former coal mining company in Bristol, leaders of which donated $20,000.

Herb Campbell, the only major Stewart donor who responded to an interview request for this story, was under the impression Stewart was still running for governor, an office Stewart sought last year before losing the Republican primary to Ed Gillespie.

“He gets around and meets a lot of people, and I think if you’re talking about being governor, I think he’d make a good man,” said the 89-year-old retiree.

Campbell was unconcerned upon learning Stewart was now running for Senate. Likewise, asked how he felt about criticism of Stewart’s past endorsements of white nationalists and white supremacists – who Stewart has since disavowed – Campbell said he “doesn’t follow stuff like that. I hear it and forget it.”

Kaine, meanwhile, has found massive support among corporate interests who often make big donations on both sides of the aisle, including two donors to the last two Republican Senate bids, Ed Gillespie in 2014 and George Allen in 2012: Cigarette manufacturer Altria Group and Virginia lobbying giant McGuireWoods.

An Altria spokesman didn’t respond to questions about the company’s decision not to back Stewart, saying in an email that the company’s political action committee “is a bi-partisan political action committee that supports both Democrat and Republican candidates at the federal and state levels.”

“We respect and admire the leadership Senator Kaine provides Virginia and the nation and AltriaPAC contributed to his re-election campaign to support his continuing service in the U.S. Senate.”

Bob Holsworth, a longtime political observer and former VCU political science professor, said companies are likely avoiding Stewart for the same reasons Republican congressional candidates around the state have thus far avoided campaigning with him.

“The Stewart campaign has been toxic to most of these companies that have statewide and multi-state interest and they really don’t want to have much to do with it,” he said.

The Virginia Mercury is a new, nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization covering Virginia government and policy.