Campaigns

Ex-Rep. Scott Taylor will challenge Va. Sen. Mark Warner despite election fraud controversy

A special prosecutor is still investigating claims of election fraud by Taylor's campaign aides in his failed House bid last year

Former Rep. Scott Taylor announced Monday he is running for Senate in 2020. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former Rep. Scott Taylor announced Monday he will challenge Democratic Sen. Mark Warner for his seat in 2020.

Taylor released a campaign launch video on YouTube on Monday highlighting his upbringing in a single-parent home, his rough pre-adolescent years, his career as a Navy SEAL and his experience as a lawmaker in Virginia and the U.S. House.

[Ex-Rep. Scott Taylor threatens Virginia Democrats over election fraud allegations]

“We have a leadership crisis in Virginia,” Taylor said Monday on Fox News morning show “Fox and Friends,” echoing a talking point in his campaign announcement video. “We need a fresh start in the Senate.”

Taylor, a one-term Republican from Virginia’s 2nd District, lost to Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria in the 2018 midterms, amid an investigation by a special prosecutor assigned to investigate claims of election fraud by aides on his campaign team.

The commonwealth’s special prosecutor, Don Caldwell, indicted one of those Taylor staffers in May, and he said at the time that his investigation remains ongoing “due primarily to the lack of cooperation of key individuals.”

[Scott Taylor Served ‘Poetic Justice’ in Election Loss, Prosecutor Says]

Taylor’s announcement video was largely devoid of political statements, though he did briefly allude to scandals involving sexual assault and racism allegations surrounding the top three Democrats in Virginia state politics: Gov. Ralph Northam, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax and Attorney General Mark Herring.

Instead of politics, Taylor focused most of his attention on conveying his personal background, though he did not mention the ongoing investigation into his 2018 re-election campaign.

Warner is a political institution in Virginia. He was governor of the commonwealth from 2002 to 2006 and won election to the Senate in 2008. He is the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee that has investigated President Donald Trump’s ties to foreign countries, including Russia during the 2016 presidential election.

Warner's campaign has raised $7.4 million so far this cycle and has $5.4 million in cash on hand, according to a press release Monday.

In that same press release, Warner campaign manager Bruce Sinclair sarcastically referred to Taylor as an "experienced campaigner" who has run for five different offices in the last decade.

“We welcome Scott Taylor to the race and wish him the best of luck in the Republican primary,” Sinclair said.

Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the 2020 Virginia Senate race Solid Democratic.

Taylor seems as if he knows a Republican challenge to Warner is a longshot, should he emerge from the GOP primary to face off against the third-term incumbent.

Watch: Working Out with Rep. Scott Taylor, Former Navy SEAL

“No matter what pundits or polls predict, this race is on and all bets are off, because we need a change in Washington and that starts with what will be a stunning upset of Mark Warner in 2020,” Taylor said in a Facebook post Monday. “I wouldn’t be in this race if I didn’t know it was possible.”

Taylor lost his reelection bid in Virginia’s 2nd District to Luria by 2.2 percentage points, and he later blamed that defeat on negative coverage stemming from the signature forgery controversy.

“Given the positive polling before the petition issue came to light and the close loss we suffered on Election Day, it is clear the millions spent by the dishonest Democrats [promoting negative press coverage] impacted the outcome of the race,” he said in May.

Taylor has said since the controversy first surfaced that he did not know his campaign staff had allegedly forged the signatures of dozens — possibly hundreds — of people in Virginia’s 2nd District to help ex-Democrat Shaun Brown get her name on the 2018 ballot as an independent in order to siphon off votes from Luria in the hotly contested race.

Investigators later learned that Taylor had been involved in the effort to get Brown on the ballot, but they have not found any evidence that the ex-congressman directed his subordinates to commit election fraud to achieve that goal.

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