Independent Candidate Who Wants to Wrestle Taylor Fails to Make Ballot

Virginia elections board invalidated 289 signatures on Aldo DiBelardino’s petition

Rep. Scott Taylor, R-Va., will not face independent candidate Aldo DiBelardino, who challenged Taylor to a wrestling match last month, in the Nov. 6 election. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Virginia man who challenged Rep. Scott Taylor to a wrestling match as part of his campaign to replace him failed to qualify for the November ballot after the state elections board said 289 of the 1,085 signatures he collected were not valid.

That left Aldo DiBelardino, the businessman who filed to run for Virginia’s 2nd District seat as an independent, with just 796 signatures — short of the 1,000-signature threshold to run for federal office in Virginia.

“I am startled by the low 73 percent validation rate as I collected a majority of the signatures myself,” DiBelardino wrote to the elections board and The Virginian-Pilot, which first reported this story.

DeBelardino plans to appeal the elections board’s decision, he said.

He is the owner of X-IT products, a fire escape ladder manufacturer.

Taylor, a former Navy SEAL with some wrestling experience of his own, did not immediately accept DiBelardino’s unorthodox proposal.

He will face Democratic challenger and retired U.S. Navy commander Elaine Luria.

Taylor is favored to keep his seat in November. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzalez rates the race Likely Republican, although President Donald Trump carried the district by just three points in 2016.

“I acknowledge that this is odd but I think it’s odd in a way that will serve voters,” DiBelardino told the Virginian-Pilot in June after issuing his invitation to Taylor to wrestle. “Part of politics, on different levels, is about entertainment and showmanship. A wrestling debate is an opportunity to not just entertain voters but also pull them into debate dialogue.”

He also offered to wrestle Luria if she wanted to take the challenge.

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