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Prince William Republican Corey Stewart announces run for LG

Prince William County board of supervisors chairman Corey Stewart officially announced a bid for lieutenant governor on Wednesday.

That makes Stewart the first candidate to declare his intentions for lieutenant governor in 2013; other Republicans have already announced intentions to run for governor and attorney general next year.

Stewart, an outspoken proponent of cracking down on illegal immigrants, had previously considered running for U.S. Senate this year.

But in a phone interview, he said he decided Republican candidate George Allen — one of several Republicans running — is the best person for that seat.

Instead, Stewart said, he wants to use the lieutenant governor’s job as a “bully pulpit” to advocate for more road money, budget reform and “the rule of law.”

“What I’ve wanted to do for some time is run for lieutenant governor. I think my background leading the second largest county in the state…it’s executive-style leadership, it’s the kind of leadership you need in a lieutenant governor,” Stewart said.

The lieutenant governor’s job isn’t known for being much of a pulpit — traditionally, its only duties involve presiding over the state Senate and casting tie-breaking votes.

But the current 20-20 split in the Senate between Republicans and Democrats has given current Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling a much higher profile and more power, as he’s broken ties on major legislation numerous times in the 2012 session.

“The lieutenant governor position has never been more powerful,” Stewart said. “With parity in the Senate and the lieutenant governor casting the tie-breaking vote, the lieutenant governor has a lot more leverage than he’s ever had…. I’m not afraid, as I’ve shown in the past, I’m not afraid of controversy, I’m not afraid to use the bully pulpit, I’m not afraid to use everything at my disposal to get things done.”

One of Stewart’s priorities, he said, is “reprioritizing” existing state revenues to devote more money to transportation. By that, he said, he doesn’t mean new revenues, he means doing things like diverting a portion of the existing sales tax to transportation.

Stewart also wants to audit VDOT and every state department, and use any savings found for highway construction.

He said he’s an advocate of providing incentives to localities to use revenue-sharing programs, but not of “devolution,” the term for the state requiring localities to take over maintenance of local roads.

Devolution — which is still just in the study stages at the state level — is a bad idea  “unless there is a dedicated revenue source for maintenance,” Stewart said.

“Not every locality in the commonwealth is prepared to maintain its own roads,” he added. “You’d have a patchwork of road maintenance around the state.”