Look who wants to be lieutenant governor

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Northern Virginia Republican Corey Stewart will run for lieutenant governor next year. (Photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters/Newscom)

In recent weeks, Virginia was rocked by a pair of unexpected events that had the potential to rain untold amounts of destruction and human misery upon the Commonwealth. The first occurred on Friday, April 6 (coincidentally the beginning of both Passover and Easter weekend), when a 15-ton Navy fighter jet lost altitude and crashed into a Virginia Beach apartment complex, destroying a number of surrounding buildings and engulfing several in flames.

The second occurred the following Wednesday, when Prince William Board of County Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart announced his candidacy for lieutenant governor.

Who’s Corey Stewart, you ask? Well, if you don’t know, count yourself lucky. In a very conservative, highly xenophobic county, Stewart is invariably the loudest, most intolerant voice on a wide range of issues. A longtime illegal-immigrant alarmist, Stewart was also the main driver behind Prince William’s so-called “Rule of Law” measures, which require local police to check the immigration status of everyone they arrest, and instructs county staff to deny certain public services to undocumented immigrants. He’s even gone so far as to sue the Department of Homeland Security to determine the status of thousands of illegal immigrants that his county turned over to the federal government, because he doesn’t believe that they’re being deported.

The idea of Corey Stewart as Virginia’s lieutenant governor gives us chills, and not in a good way—especially since he would almost certainly be paired with Governor Ken Cuccinelli (one has to imagine that an electorate predisposed to the Cooch’s retrograde brand of conservatism would also embrace Stewart’s aggressive immigrant bashing).

Call us idealists, but we truly think that Virginia is better than that. Yes, the Commonwealth has recently taken a hard turn to the right, and it seems that every week brings some new indignity that we must painfully bear (most recent example: The state senate refusing to fund the mandatory ultrasounds it imposed on any woman seeking to terminate a pregnancy, thereby forcing women who want a legal medical procedure to pay hundreds of dollars for an additional procedure that they do not need).

But a Virginia governed by Ken Cuccinelli, with Corey Stewart next in line for the throne (and who knows, maybe even Albemarle’s own Delegate Rob Bell filling the roll of tough-on-crime attorney general), is not a Virginia that we would recognize. It would be Arizona on the Atlantic Ocean, and we simply can’t believe that’s what the majority of Old Dominion residents really want.

And so, to stretch the metaphor to the breaking point, here’s where we are: The fighter jet has already crashed into the Commonwealth, and much ancillary damage has been done. But as the smoke and fire gradually clears, and the 2013 elections draw near, we are still hoping for a Virginia Beach-level miracle, where everybody emerges unhurt, and we all look around at each other with soot on our faces and say, dazedly, “What the hell just happened?”

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