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 KaineDem senator wants Trump to extend immigration protections to Venezuelans Pentagon sends Congress list of projects that could lose funds to Trump's emergency declaration The Hill's Morning Report - 2020 Dems grapple with race, gender and privilege 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 SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersWarren, Klobuchar call on FTC to curtail use of non-compete clauses RNC says it raised .6 million in February Pollster says 'it's certainly not looking good' for Trump ahead of 2020 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.