Donald Trump’s presidential campaign made good on a threat to fire the chairman of its campaign in Virginia on Monday, after the campaign chairman held an anti-RNC, pro-Trump protest outside of party headquarters.
"Former Virginia State Chairman Corey Stewart is no longer affiliated with the Donald J. Trump for President campaign,” Trump’s deputy campaign manager David Bossie wrote in a statement. “He is being replaced, effective immediately. Corey made this decision when he staged a stunt in front of the RNC without the knowledge or the approval of the Trump campaign."
Stewart, currently the chairman of the Prince William County board of supervisors, confirmed he had been warned by the campaign that he might lose his campaign position for staging the rally. He told WUSA9 he learned of his firing from media reports. Several hours later he said he had yet to hear anything from the campaign.
“I am deathly loyal, and I am going to be supporting [Trump] and supporting his candidacy all the way to the end,” Stewart told WUSA9.
Stewart said he organized the demonstration to highlight what he believes is a lack of meaningful support for Trump from the RNC, particularly in Virginia, where Trump trails Clinton significantly in public polls.
“Somebody had to say the truth. And the truth is, the RNC and the Republican elites for lack of a better word, is not supporting the Trump campaign,” Stewart said. “They’ve been diverting resources away from Virginia, they’ve been diverting resources that Mr. Trump actually raised, money that he raised out of the state and to the states where you have down ticket races.”
Trump’s campaign manager Kellyanne Conway disputed that notion in a statement that accompanied the announcement of Stewart’s firing.
"We have a tremendous working relationship with the RNC. Chairman Reince Priebus has been an engaged and incredibly supportive ally to Mr. Trump throughout the campaign,” she wrote. “The Chairman and his top executives, Katie Walsh and Sean Spicer, have stood shoulder to shoulder with us as we have enhanced our field team, data operation, fundraising and ground game efforts over the past couple of months."
Stewart contends there may be more personal politics at play as well. He says Bossie supports his Republican opponent in the 2017 governor’s race in Virginia, former RNC chairman Ed Gillespie, and might have hoped to damage his bid by replacing him.
Still supporting Trump, but without a formal role in his campaign, Stewart may now have the benefit of being deeply tied to Trump’s grassroots supporters without the risk of being blamed for a Trump loss in the commonwealth.
Trump campaign and RNC spokespeople did not immediately respond to emailed questions about who would replace Stewart as Trump’s campaign chairman in Virginia.
Inbox: Statement of RPV Chairman John Whitbeck on Virginia Trump Campaign Chair Removal pic.twitter.com/mgyAyRH0I9— Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) October 10, 2016