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Senate GOP campaign arm has no plans to endorse Republican nominee in Virginia

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The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) has no plans to endorse Corey Stewart, the party’s Senate nominee in Virginia, the group’s chairman said Wednesday.
 
“We have a big map, right now we are focused on Florida, North Dakota, Missouri, Indiana. I don’t see Virginia in it,” Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), who leads the Senate GOP campaign arm, told CNN.
Stewart, a controversial figure, won the GOP Senate nomination Tuesday night.
 
{mosads}He previously made a failed bid for Virginia governor, basing much of his campaign in 2017 around preserving Confederate statues.
 
Gardner’s decision is a break with President Trump, who tweeted his congratulations to Stewart on Wednesday morning.
 
“Congratulations to Corey Stewart for his great victory for Senator from Virginia. Now he runs against a total stiff, Tim Kaine, who is weak on crime and borders, and wants to raise your taxes through the roof. Don’t underestimate Corey, a major chance of winning!” Trump wrote on Twitter.
 
It’s not the first time Gardner has decided to not endorse a candidate who has received Trump’s backing. The committee, under Gardner’s leadership, refused to back controversial Alabama GOP Senate nominee Roy Moore last year.
 
Even when Trump endorsed Moore a month after the first allegations of sexual misconduct by women who were underage at the time surfaced against the candidate, Gardner refused to follow Trump’s endorsement. That put the NRSC at odds with both the White House and the Republican National Committee, which also backed Moore. 
 
Following his win Tuesday, Stewart is now set to face off against Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) in November.
 
Though Republicans are facing a favorable Senate map, Virginia isn’t considered a top target. Instead, Republicans are focusing their efforts on a slate of vulnerable Democrats who are up for reelection in red or purple states won by Trump in 2016. 
 
– Ben Kamisar contributed.
Tags Cory Gardner Donald Trump Roy Moore Tim Kaine

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