Washington Mourns the Sudden Death of Political Commentator Alice Stewart at 58


Washington experienced a jolt this week with the sudden and tragic passing of political commentator and veteran media adviser Alice Stewart at the age of 58. Stewart had made an appearance on CNN’s The Situation Room as recently as last Friday. The following day, her body was discovered in the Belle View neighborhood of northern Virginia. Authorities have ruled out foul play but have yet to determine the cause of her death.

Alice Stewart was born on March 11, 1966, in Atlanta. A passionate football enthusiast and a dedicated supporter of the Georgia Bulldogs, Stewart graduated from the University of Georgia and began her career as a local TV reporter in Savannah. She later moved to Arkansas, taking on roles as a reporter, anchor, and producer for Little Rock’s NBC affiliate, KARK-4. Transitioning to politics in the early 2000s, Stewart joined Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s staff as communications director. When Huckabee ran for president in 2007, Stewart was among his first campaign hires, using her strategic acumen and media expertise to help him win the Iowa caucuses and secure a second-place finish in the delegate count behind John McCain. “The news of her death has been deeply sobering to me personally and to my family,” Huckabee stated this week.

(L-R) Ed Goeas, Alice Stewart, and Bob Heckman speaking for Michele Bachman in the spin room after The New Hampshire Republican Presidential Debate at Saint Anselm College in Manchester. (James Leynse/Corbis via Getty Images)

Her success with Huckabee’s campaign opened doors for Stewart in subsequent Republican presidential campaigns. She served as communications director for the campaigns of Rick Santorum and Michele Bachmann, while also working as a communications strategist for then-Florida Gov. Rick Scott. In 2016, Stewart played a crucial role in helping Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) become a serious contender for the Republican presidential nomination, guiding him to victories in the Iowa caucuses and 10 other states, ultimately finishing second in the delegate count behind Donald Trump.

Post-Cruz campaign, Stewart returned to television and explored other mediums. In 2016, she started as a political analyst for CNN, with regular appearances on shows like The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer. Even though she was initially hired as a conservative voice for the network, Stewart identified as “an independent thinker,” emphasizing, “I’m not a Kool-Aid drinker; I’m not a never-Trumper, and I didn’t check my common sense and decency at the door when I voted for [Trump].” Additionally, Stewart contributed to NPR and the SiriusXM radio show POTUS, and in 2020, she co-launched the Hot Mics From Left to Right podcast with political commentator and CNN analyst Maria Cardona. Despite a competitive media landscape, Hot Mics gained traction, breaking into the top 100 of Apple’s most downloaded political podcasts.

A prominent speaker at events such as the Learn Right Summit and the Leadership Institute, where she led media training for aspiring conservative politicians, Stewart was also dedicated to running, having recently completed the Washington, D.C., marathon and the 2023 New York City marathon. She had a passion for botany and gardening, particularly in cultivating crocuses and other seasonal plants, and she cherished her Shih Tzu, Sammie. Her admiration for Winston Churchill was well-known.

Beyond her exceptional skills in political communications, Stewart was praised for her decency, sincerity, honesty, and kindness—qualities that distinguished her in today’s often divisive political climate. A devout Christian and a “faithful witness to her Savior Jesus,” as described by Santorum, Stewart was well-liked across political lines. This widespread respect is a key reason why her death has profoundly affected Washington’s political community. Wolf Blitzer, in tribute, described her as “a very special person” on CNN Newsroom, noting, “We always invited her to come on my show because we knew we would be a little bit smarter at the end of that conversation. She helped our viewers better appreciate what was going on, and that’s why we will miss her so much.”

Dana Bash, another CNN colleague, remembered her as “somebody who told it straight,” without resorting to histrionics or personal attacks. But for Bash and many others fortunate to have known her, it was Stewart’s personal qualities that set her apart. Bash recalled that Stewart brought “kindness and support,” in addition to intelligence and expertise. A media observer recounted how Stewart would bring extra food to campaign events for exhausted reporters who often struggled to find proper meals on the trail. Indeed, Washington has lost one of its truly good ones.

Daniel Ross Goodman
Daniel Ross Goodman
Contributor. Daniel Ross Goodman is a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Divinity School. He holds a Ph.D. from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, studied English & Comparative Literature at Columbia University, and teaches Jewish thought and theology at St. John's University. He is the author of Somewhere Over the Rainbow: Wonder and Religion in American Cinema and the novel A Single Life.

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