Politics

Rep. Scott Taylor Falling Behind Challenger After Ballot Forgery Scandal, Democratic Poll Shows

Democrat Elaine Luria is challenging freshman lawmaker in Virginia’s 2nd District

An internal poll for Democrat Elaine Luria showed her leading Rep. Scott Taylor in Virginia’s 2nd District amid lingering questions about Taylor’s role in a fraudulent ballot petition scandal. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Democrat Elaine Luria led Rep. Scott Taylor by 8 points in Virginia’s 2nd District amid lingering questions about the Republican lawmaker’s role in a ballot signature scandal, according to an internal poll released by Luria’s campaign Tuesday.

The survey, conducted by Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group, gave the Navy veteran a 51 percent to 43 percent lead over Taylor. A June survey by the same firm showed her trailing by 4 points, the campaign said.

Luria’s campaign credited her lead partly to the alleged scheme to submit fraudulent qualifying petitions to help independent candidate Shaun Brown make the ballot — an apparent attempt to siphon support from Luria.

“While voters in the district have been bombarded by coverage of the election fraud scandal surrounding Congressman Scott Taylor, we have remained focused on sharing Luria’s record of service to her country and community,” Luria campaign manager Kathryn Sorenson said.  “This is a swing district, and we are going to fight for every vote between now and Election Day.”

A special prosecutor is investigating four of Taylor’s campaign staffers for allegedly forging dozens of signatures on Brown’s behalf.

A Richmond, Virginia, circuit court judge ordered Brown’s name removed from the ballot Sept. 5 after finding the petitions she submitted were “rife with errors, inconsistencies, and forgeries.” The Virginia Supreme Court last week dismissed Brown’s appeal.

Candidates for Congress in Virginia must collect at least 1,000 signatures from residents of the district to appear on the ballot in a general election.

The Democratic Party of Virginia, which filed the original lawsuit in August to kick Brown off the ballot, has accused Taylor of helping Brown, his 2016 Democratic opponent, in a backdoor maneuver to split the Democratic vote.

Taylor has denied those claims.

Garin-Hart-Yang interviewed 404 likely general election voters from Sept. 5-8 by both landlines and cell phones. The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points. 

The survey also found that Taylor’s “personal ratings” had dropped to 33 percent positive and 33 percent negative — down from June when he was at  41 percent positive and 27 percent negative. 

In contrast, the number of respondents reporting positive feelings about Luria rose over the same period. She scored 20 percent positive to 5 percent negative in June. In September, she scored 34 percent positive to 8 percent negative.

Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race Leans Republican.

Watch: No More Blue Wave Metaphors, 2018 Is About Too Many GOP Fires

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