Corey Stewart called Michigan gubernatorial candidate 'ISIS commie' in since-deleted tweet

Corey Stewart called Michigan gubernatorial candidate 'ISIS commie' in since-deleted tweet
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Virginia Senate candidate Corey Stewart (R) attacked Michigan gubernatorial candidate Abdul El-Sayed (D) this week, calling El-Sayed an "ISIS commie" in a since-deleted tweet. 

"Michigan almost elected a far left ISIS commie," Stewart said in a Wednesday tweet, according to a screenshot taken by progressive website, Blue Virginia. 

"This guy wants to abolish ICE & won 300,000 votes. Dangerous stuff. Don't let wimpy @timkaine bring this dangerous, far left communism to VA," he continued, referencing his Democratic challenger, former Virginia Governor, Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineOvernight Defense: Iran worries dominate foreign policy talk | Pentagon reportedly to send WH plans for 10K troops in Mideast | Democrats warn Trump may push through Saudi arms sale | Lawmakers blast new Pentagon policy on sharing info Iraq War looms over Trump battle with Iran Senate passes bill to undo tax increase on Gold Star military families MORE.

In his tweet, Stewart quoted another tweet from a right-wing news site that says "Michigan dodges bullet as Sharia Law Compliant Democrat Loses Gubernatorial primary."

Stewart's tweet followed the day after El-Sayed came in second place in Michigan's Democratic primary for governor. El-Sayed, who supported abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), ran a progressive platform and was supported by Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersHarris readies a Phase 2 as she seeks to rejuvenate campaign 2020 Dems put spotlight on disabilities issues Lee, Sanders introduce bill to tax Wall Street transactions MORE (I-Vt.) and rising Democratic star, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. 

El-Sayed would have been the first Muslim governor in the U.S. if elected this year, according to NBC.

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Stewart said the tweet was sent from a vendor and that as soon as he saw it, he took it down. He added that his campaign terminated the individual's Twitter access as a result, but did not discipline the person any further.

"One of my vendors put out a tweet last night that attempted to link a Michigan gubernatorial candidate to ISIS, because he apparently received support from purported extremists," Stewart said in a statement to The Hill. "I don't believe in guilt by association. I have been the target of very similar smears, and I don't believe in using such tactics against others."

Stewart has been a controversial figure in Virginia politics for alleged ties to white nationalists and his past defense of Confederate monuments. 

He also reportedly praised Virginia's decision to secede from the U.S. at the Civil War's outset, during a speech in 2017.

The Republican National Committee has yet to say whether it will back Stewart in his race against Kaine

Some Republicans reportedly fear the senate candidate's presence on the ballot could be a drag on the party's other candidates in this year's midterm elections.

Kaine currently leads Stewart by more than 20 percentage points, according to a recent poll from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Updated at 6:24 p.m.