Why Dave Brat Should Dodge Corey Stewart

Rep. Dave Brat’s (R-Va.) reelection bid has a problem.

It’s not necessarily the candidate, who seems to have based a good deal of his current campaign on the residue of his 2014 upset of then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. Those firmly in Brat’s camp will always respond to that particular dog whistle.

Nor is necessarily President Trump, whose id-driven tweets can change the issues, and thus the ground conditions, of congressional races across the country. Brat generally is on the president’s side and has been since those long-ago days when candidate Trump was giving him shout-outs from the podium at the Richmond Raceway.

Brat’s biggest problem is how and whether he can separate his campaign from that of Trump’s mini-me, GOP Senate nominee Corey A. Stewart.

Shortly after Stewart won the nomination, the Richmond Times-Dispatch asked several GOP incumbent House members, including Brat, for comment on Stewart.

Like fellow Reps. Barbara Comstock and Scott Taylor, Brat “would not answer questions” about the man at the top of the ticket.

It’s not the kind of topic Brat and his fellow Republicans can dodge forever. But Brat, at least, will give it a go, as he did Friday in an appearance on the Lee Brothers radio show in Richmond.

Brat said, “it’s up to me what the race is about.” And he hopes it will be about tax cuts, economic growth and curbing immigration.

“I like bringing everybody together. I went to seminary, and I’m going to run positive, on the issues.”

For an incumbent Republican, that’s not a bad strategy.

Then Brat was asked if he was “going to be working with Corey Stewart.”

Brat said:

We just work with every Republican. I hope it’s just pushing the Republican creed and all the issues I just talked about. That’s what we do. We just … you just say ‘here’s our vision for the American people, and here’s [Democrats’] vision.’

And I hope [voters] choose our vision. The Republican creed clearly dominates the Democrat platform on every single issue.

So no comment regarding Stewart but a big, leafy word salad about the vision-thing and the tattered Republican creed.

Brat and others can’t dodge the Stewart question forever. Virginia Democrats and his general election challenger, Abigail Spanberger, will make sure of it.

But if Brat decides to engage in politics just a bit, he’ll see the 7th District’s GOP voters have already given him the go-ahead to push Stewart away.

That evidence comes from the June 12 Senate primary election returns.

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