VIRGINIA-STEWART

Corey Stewart speaks during a debate in 2018. 

WASHINGTON - Corey Stewart, the Virginia Republican who last fall made an angry and unsuccessful bid to defeat Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., will head a conservative super PAC geared toward helping President Donald Trump and candidates who support him in the 2020 elections, the group announced Thursday.

The Keeping America Great PAC will raise money for the president's re-election and for state and federal candidates who support his policies, Stewart said.

The organization previously was tied to Rep. Dave Brat, R-Va., and his unsuccessful re-election effort against Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va.

Last year, the PAC raised $130,000, all of which came from William Cooley, a Republican donor based in Florida, according to the nonprofit Center for Responsive Politics' Open Secrets website. Most of that money went into attack ads against Spanberger.

One ad, titled "Arsonist," featured video footage of anti-Trump protests that turned violent, characterizing Spanberger as part of "an angry left-wing mob."

"You don't hand matches to an arsonist," Trump says during a speech included in the ad. "And you don't give power to an angry left-wing mob."

Another ad that featured newspaper headlines of GOP candidates who had been physically attacked said Spanberger would help usher in the destruction of "our values and our America."

Stewart's Senate campaign that year was laden with controversy over previous ties to right-wing extremists and included suggestions without evidence that Kaine had been accused of sexual harassment. Under his leadership, Stewart said, the Keeping America Great PAC "will have more of my flavor," with a broader focus.

"I'm pretty excited about it," said Stewart, who also briefly chaired Trump's 2016 campaign in Virginia before he was fired.

This year, Stewart, who lost to Kaine by 16 points, announced that he will not seek re-election as chair of Prince William County's board of supervisors or run for another office anytime soon, although he said he would remain politically active.

"There's been a lot of interest" about the PAC from candidates across the country, Stewart said. "A lot of the candidates out there are running in Republican primaries across the country and want to tie themselves to the president."

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