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Some of the sharpest criticism of George Allen’s bid to regain his old seat in the U.S. Senate has come from Corey Stewart, a fellow Republican who is chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors.
"George Allen would be a terrible candidate for the Republican party in 2012," Stewart said in a TV interview on Jan. 24, 2011, the day Allen announced his candidacy. "He's got the baggage, he ran a poor campaign in 2006, and he never acted as a conservative when he was in the U.S. Senate."
At the time, Stewart was considering running against Allen for Virginia’s 2012 Republican senate nomination. He lauded Allen as a "great governor" from 1994 to 1998. But Stewart said Allen’s term in the Senate, from 2001 to 2007, was "mediocre."
"He did nothing to control the expansion and the growth of the federal government during his tenure in the Senate,"Stewart said. He faulted Allen -- who lost his reelection bid in 2006 to Democrat Jim Webb -- for supporting budgets that increased debt and backing the expansion of Medicare.
"George Allen is part of the problem, not the solution," Stewart said in an article that ran in The Washington Times on Dec. 28, 2010.
In several interviews, Stewart even expressed revulsion Allen’s often-stated reverence for Thomas Jefferson’s views on limited government. "Frankly, it makes by stomach turn a bit because Thomas Jefferson would not have voted to expand the scope of the federal government," he said in the Jan. 24 TV interview.
"Jefferson would be rolling over in his grave if he heard Allen quote him," Stewart said in a Jan. 25 article in The Washington Post.
Let’s fast forward to Nov. 1, 2011, when Stewart, appeared at a news conference with Allen. "I hereby endorse and give my full support to George Allen for the United States Senate in 2012," he said.
Stewart was asked about his characterization of Allen as a "mediocre" senator. "All in all, I’ve got to say that I retract that statement and I have to say he had a very good senate record," he said.
What explains the change? Stewart, in a phone interview, said his negative comments about Allen earlier this year were fueled by his own interest in running for the Senate in 2012 -- an ambition he has since dropped.
"Obviously, that colored my view," he said. "I’m an ambitious fellow, I’ll be frank about that, and at that point I was only seeing the bad (in Allen)."
Although Stewart said he still does not agree with some of the votes Allen cast during his first term, he is convinced that Allen would compile a more conservative record if he is elected to the Senate again.
"The country has changed," he said. "There’s been a huge wake-up signal sent by the Tea Party that they no longer want a wishy-washy Republican Party. They want a party that pares back the role of government and spending. George gets that."
Stewart also said Allen offers the best hope in next year’s Senate race for defeating former Gov. Tim Kaine, the presumptive Democratic nominee.
Stewart’s endorsement of Allen is not a difficult case for on our Flip-O-Meter. Anytime a politician totally recants an earlier position, as Stewart has done, we rate it a Full Flop.
NBC Washington, About face: Stewart endorses Allen for Senate, Nov. 1, 2011.
The Washington Post, In "American Comeback," Allen repeats Senate run, Jan. 25, 2011.
The Washington Times, It’s official, Allen running for Senate; focus turns to Webb, Jan. 24, 2011.
Hotline, Va. Republicans take aim at Allen, Jan 24, 2011.
The Washington Times, Allen weighs another shot at Webb, Dec. 28, 2010.
The Washington Post, Corey Stewart: George Allen had "mediocre" senate record, Nov. 29, 2010.
NBC Washington, "George Allen would be a terrible candidate," Jan. 24, 2011.
The Washington Post, Corey Stewart, a a frequent critic of George Allen, endorses him for U.S. Senate, Nov. 1, 2011.
Interview with Corey Stewart, chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors, Nov. 2, 2011.
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