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Scott Taylor Changes His Mind, Will Go For a Luria Rematch After All

“A party that truly felt it could win back the seats lost in 2018 would not watch one of the former incumbents who lost a cliffhanger race decide to charge a windmill instead of preparing for a rematch. Taylor’s announcement is an admission — he can’t win in Virginia Beach in 2020…” – Yours truly [1], on ex-Congressman Scott Taylor’s decision last year to run for U.S. Senate

This morning, the aforementioned post was kicked deep into That-Didn’t-Age-Well Territory, as Taylor reversed course (Jenna Portnoy, Washington Post [2]).

Republican Scott Taylor said Monday that he will end his U.S. Senate campaign in Virginia against Sen. Mark R. Warner (D) and instead run for his old U.S. House seat representing Virginia Beach.

If Taylor wins a competitive Republican primary, he would face Rep. Elaine Luria [3], the Democrat who unseated him last year amid a wave of anti-Trump sentiment and an election petitions scandal that embroiled Taylor’s campaign.

It goes without saying, if Taylor’s initial decision to skip a rematch with Luria meant he was acknowledging his old seat was out of reach, his present move is a clear sign he now thinks returning to the House is within reach. The question is why. Taylor was good enough to answer it (Portnoy).

Taylor said Luria’s support for articles of impeachment against President Trump convinced him to pursue a rematch against her.

In an interview on WAVY TV10, he accused Luria, a former Navy commander, of “disgracefully using your military background to justify an empty impeachment which has taken away from the needs of the district and the country.”

In other words, Taylor is hoping he can ride anti-impeachment sentiment to victory. That might be trickier than Taylor thinks, given that impeachment and removal of the president is a 50-50 issue among Virginia voters (Richmond Times-Dispatch [4]). On the other hand, Virginia’s 2nd District is, in theory, less Democratic than the rest of the Commonwealth.

Taylor also thought to push the case with a questionable statement on Luria’s initial support for the impeachment inquiry (Portnoy).

Luria is one of seven freshmen Democrats, five of them women, who announced their support for an impeachment inquiry in late September in an op-ed [5] in The Washington Post.

“These girls that have national security backgrounds, they came out before there was any bit of evidence whatsoever, and they did so to create political cover for moderates to allow [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi to move forward,” Taylor said early Monday on the John Fredericks radio show [6].

I leave it to others to decide whether word of the repressed whistleblower report qualifies as “any bit of evidence.” Wait, no I don’t; it certainly is evidence, and Taylor was inaccurate, to say the least.

Taylor’s issues with the truth are not the story, however. What is the story is that the Republican nomination for the 2nd District is a sought-after prize. As Portnoy notes, Ben Loyola is also running for the nomination; his campaign manager used the story to take a shot at Taylor.

Democrats, meanwhile, “seized on the switch as proof that Taylor couldn’t gain traction in the Senate race against Warner” (Portnoy). That’s a decent spin, but we — for those who don’t know, I am the in-house conservative Democrat on Bearing Drift — shouldn’t be as complacent as the quote suggests. Scott Taylor did win here. If he thinks he can win again, that can’t be ignored. Given Loyola’s presence in the race, Taylor’s entrance could actually make things easier for Luria (by ensuring a divisive GOP primary).

Easier, however, is not easy. I’m sure Luria always assumed her re-election would be difficult. Taylor’s re-entry is merely more evidence of that.