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Posted at 3:51 PM ET, 03/ 1/2011

Corey Stewart will vie to keep Pr. William chairman's seat

By Jennifer Buske

Surrounded by his fellow Republican board members, Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey A. Stewart (R-At Large) announced Tuesday that he will seek another term as chairman.

"We are all very supportive of our chairman," Supervisor Maureen S. Caddigan (R-Dumfries ) said. "We all know of his honesty and straightforwardness. I've very proud to endorse and support Corey. We need him."

Stewart is one of a handful of potential GOP candidates also considering a race for Democratic Sen. James Webb's seat in 2012. Stewart would not confirm or deny Tuesday whether he is running for higher office in the future.

"Clearly what I need to do right now is focus on this job," he said. "I'll continue to assess all options and make a decision possibly early next year."

During his announcement, the 42-year-old touted the board's achievements under his tenure, including reducing the county budget by $143 million over the past few years and keeping taxes low for residents. Stewart said he wants to expand on the progress made in the county, and in the next five years he expects to see two new libraries, 10 new schools and more than $560 million go into county infrastructure. All this, he said, will pave the way for job growth in the county.

If Stewart decides to follow seek higher office, however, he would face a handful of other contenders who plan to vie for Webb's U.S. Senate seat, including former senator George Allen, tea party leader Jamie Radtke and Hampton Roads lawyer David McCormick. Others eyeing the Senate race include Del. Robert G. Marshall (Prince William), Hampton Roads businessman Bert Mizusawa and Bishop Earl Jackson, pastor of Exodus Faith Ministries in Chesapeake.

Allen, a former governor and senator with a statewide base of support, has the tacit backing of much of the party establishment. If Stewart were to run, he would be battling Radtke and possibly Marshall for grass-roots support to the ideological right of Allen.

Based on recent contests, Stewart would have to raise at least $10 million to beat Allen in a primary and then run a credible general-election campaign.

Waiting awhile to decide whether to throw his name into the race could put Stewart at a disadvantage when it comes to fundraising -- something he acknowledged Tuesday. Competing with Allen, he said, would also be a challenge.

"Clearly he has a lot of name recognition and clearly he is the frontrunner," Stewart said of Allen. "As for myself, I just don't know yet what I am going to do. If at the end of the day I'm not in a position to run, that's okay with me."

Back on the local level, several have said they plan to vie for the chairman's seat, expressing their discontent with Stewart.

"I've been a very controversial figure and people either love me or hate me," Stewart said. "My stance on illegal immigration definitely created some enemies ... that's the consequence of staying firm on an issue."

Those currently interested in the chairman's seat are independent John Gray; Haymarket Town Council member Robert B. "Bob" Weir, a Republican; and two Democrats, eye surgeon Babur Lateef and County Planning Commission Chairman Gary Friedman.

By Jennifer Buske  | March 1, 2011; 3:51 PM ET
Categories:  Corey Stewart, Prince William  
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