GOP candidate: Decision to rename school after Obama 'political correctness run amuck'

Corey Stewart, the Virginia Republican Party's nominee for Senate, said he disagrees with the decision to rename a Richmond elementary school after former President Obama. 

Stewart has long courted controversy with his ardent support of Confederate monuments. During a Monday morning interview with Hill.TV's "Rising," Stewart said the school erred by removing the name of a Confederate general in favor of Obama's.

“I’m not opposed to somebody naming a school after a president of the United States, in this case Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaThe Memo: Bernie Sanders’s WH launch sharpens ‘socialist’ question Obama spends Presidents Day at Ayesha Curry's San Francisco restaurant Government's misguided holiday to celebrate itself MORE, even though I don’t like Barack Obama,” Stewart said.

“If a school district wants to name their school after Barack Obama, that's fine. But don’t take the name of a historic figure off a school. That is political correctness run amuck,” he said.

Stewart narrowly won his primary in June and is moving ahead on his underdog bid to topple Sen. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineDemocrats brush off GOP 'trolling' over Green New Deal Overnight Defense: Trump declares border emergency | .6B in military construction funds to be used for wall | Trump believes Obama would have started war with North Korea | Pentagon delivers aid for Venezuelan migrants Kaine asks Shanahan if military families would be hurt by moving .6B for border wall MORE (D-Va.).

The debate relates to a decision earlier this month by the Richmond Public School Board to change the name of J.E.B. Stuart Elementary School. Stuart died in Richmond and held command over soldiers in key Civil War battles like Gettysburg and Chancellorsville. 

The school had been the only one in the district named for a Confederate leader, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, which added that the school's student population is more than 90 percent black. 

Stewart's defense of Confederate monuments became a centerpiece of his 2017 gubernatorial primary bid as the push to rename Confederate-linked buildings gained steam in the state and across the country.

But his embrace of the issue, and other controversies, has prompted many Republicans in Washington to keep their distance. The National Republican Senatorial Committee has not endorsed him and the Republican National Committee has not commented on whether it will spend money to boost his candidacy. 

But both the Virginia Republican Party and President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump nominates Jeffrey Rosen to replace Rosenstein at DOJ McCabe says ‘it’s possible’ Trump is a Russian asset McCabe: Trump ‘undermining the role of law enforcement’ MORE endorsed him after his primary victory, calling him a superior alternative to Kaine. Stewart's team is hopeful his loyalty to Trump, and the president's nod, will help motivate Republicans to turn out in November.

Other Republicans are more skeptical and fear Stewart's penchant for controversy could drag down the entire ticket in the state, possibly jeopardizing key House races. 

— Ben Kamisar