Over the weekend, Virginia candidate for Governor Corey Stewart received some bad news. Four out of five Republican colleagues on the Prince William County Board of Supervisors announced their endorsement of Ed Gillespie, one of his primary opponents. So did Glendell Hill, the county sheriff and most senior elected black Republican in the Commonwealth.
On its face, this is politically bad news, but for those of us in Prince William County, it’s even worse for Corey’s campaign.
Marty Nohe, Coles District Supervisor, has been considered a Stewart ally for years. Nohe recently voted with Stewart to tentatively move forward on a costly baseball stadium that fiscal conservatives are revolting over. When Nohe faced a challenge in 2015’s firehouse primary, Stewart was behind him. Now Nohe is on Team Gillespie, and his reasoning is deeply personal.
The Nohe’s have two adopted black children, and Stewart has been running a campaign steeped in quiet racism. Nohe recounted his recent decision to speak out against Corey’s efforts to the Prince William Times:
As the Nohes watched Stewart’s video from the Old South Ball, they agreed it was time to speak up again.
First, they turned to Facebook. At 10:16 p.m. that night, Marty Nohe posted a family picture taken last year when he was sworn in for his fourth term. In the photo, Marty and Kristina are surrounded by their children.
Beneath the family picture, Marty Nohe recounted a conversation Kristina had with Nicholas, one of two siblings they adopted as toddlers. Kris had asked Nicholas what he thought about the Confederate flag.
“[Nicholas] said, ‘Whenever I see the Confederate flag I think I about the pictures from the 1960s during the end of segregation. There were a lot of people holding the Confederate flag in those pictures and I doubt that they were holding it because they were just expressing their Southern pride,’” Nohe wrote.
“Kris then asked if there was anything else Nicholas thought when he saw the flag. ‘Well, to be honest, I don’t think that those people want much to do with someone like me. You know, a black person.’”
Nohe added: “Nicholas is a smart kid, because that’s basically what I think of, too.”
Remember folks, this is a man whose political career and life have largely intersected with Stewart’s over the last few years. Nohe and Stewart are considered the moderates on the Board of Supervisors, and have more reasons than not to back each other up. Stewart is running a campaign so divisive that he has lost Nohe, and that speaks volumes.
In regards to Sheriff Glen Hill, folks involved in Republican politics up here know that he and Stewart have effectively run as ticket mates for the last few elections. During the same 2015 firehouse primary, Hill rallied support for Stewart, who was facing token opposition from his right. The two attended meetings together and appeared on literature together.
Just days ago, Hill was a prominent endorser of Stewart, but he has flipped:
“Today, I am pulling my endorsement of Corey Stewart for Governor. He is a friend but his campaign has become more focused on division, rather than the unifying values and the history of the Republican Party. I now support Ed Gillespie to be our next Governor.”
There will be defenders of Stewart who write off Nohe and Hill’s backing of Gillespie as just playing politics. That would be a mistake. Anyone active in Prince William County knows that these men have operated as friends, and teammates, for many years. It matters what the people who know a candidate best think of their campaign.
There’s a reason why Corey Stewart canceled a campaign appearance the night he found out about these endorsements and decided to go out drinking with his staff in Richmond instead. He knows these people matter too.