Former U.S. Rep. Scott Taylor, a Republican from Virginia Beach who lost his seat last year, will run for U.S. Senate against Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., in 2020.
Taylor posted an announcement video on YouTube on Monday talking about his challenging childhood, his service as a Navy SEAL and his term in Congress, and said he listened to people who didn’t feel like they were being listened to.
“There’s a leadership crisis in Virginia, Washington is broken and we need a fresh start in the Senate,” Taylor said in the video. “I’m running for the United States Senate for our stories, for the disadvantaged, for those stuck and those left behind. We are all in this together.”
Taylor, 40, served as a state delegate from Virginia Beach before his 2016 election to Congress, where he succeeded retiring GOP Rep. Scott Rigell.
Taylor beat fellow a Republican, former U.S. Rep. Randy Forbes, in a primary that year. Forbes opted to run in the 2nd Congressional District primary even though he represented the 4th Congressional District because the 4th had been redrawn favorably to Democrats.
In November, Taylor lost his seat to Elaine Luria, who was one of three female Democrats to unseat Republican incumbents, giving Democrats a 7-4 edge in Virginia’s U.S. House delegation.
Dogging Taylor during the campaign was the revelation that his campaign staff had signed off on forged signatures in an attempt to get an independent candidate, Shaun Brown, on the ballot in the general election in an apparent attempt to draw votes away from Luria and frustrate the Democrats.
A Richmond judge in a civil trial ordered Brown removed from the ballot and found “out and out fraud” in the signatures she submitted, including some by Taylor campaign aides. Taylor has said he did not know about the forged signatures, and in May said that he’s concerned that a special prosecutor who’s investigating is dragging out the process for political purposes.
Roanoke Commonwealth’s Attorney Don Caldwell, an independent who was previously a Democrat, was assigned to investigate about 11 months ago. In May, one former Taylor aide was indicted on two felony counts of election fraud.
Democrats issued statements Monday pegging Taylor as a perennial candidate.
“Scott Taylor is an experienced campaigner, having run or explored running for five different offices in the past decade,” said Warner campaign manager Bruce Sinclair in a news release. “We welcome Scott Taylor to the race and wish him the best of luck in the Republican primary.”
Warner, Virginia’s governor from 2002 to 2006, has served in the Senate since 2009. He was narrowly re-elected in 2014, defeating Republican Ed Gillespie.
According to the Virginia Public Access Project, the top five vote-getters in Virginia history are Democrats running in presidential years, led by Warner, who received a record 2,369,327 votes in 2008 when Barack Obama led the Democratic ticket. Virginia’s voter turnout in 2008 was 74%.
In 2014, a nonpresidential year, turnout was 41.6% and Warner received 1,073,667 votes — nearly 1.3 million fewer than in his last bid — and barely edged Gillespie.
In a news release, Taylor said he is the underdog in the race: “No matter what pundits or polls predict, this race is on, and all bets are off.”
Taylor’s first day as a Senate candidate got off to a rocky start; a 2 p.m. news conference at a Richmond law firm was pushed back until 3:30 p.m., and when reporters arrived they were told it was pushed back to 5 p.m. Then the Taylor campaign sent an email to reporters saying it was canceled because of unexpected travel delays.