“Washington is broken, and we need a fresh start,” was the mantra two years ago from Congressman Scott Taylor sparring with Congressman Randy Forbes over who should be the nominee for the Republican Party in the 2nd Congressional District.
“I am sick and tired of electing Republicans who say one thing to get elected, only to go to Washington and forget about us,” is now the claim from Mary Jones in her campaign announcement video, found on her website, throwing down the gauntlet on Taylor.
Such as it is in primary elections. The hunter becomes the hunted.
One moment you are the darling of the citizens at the gates, ready to overthrow the entrenched leadership. The next you are the “establishment elite.”
Of course, there’s a reason Jones has the ammunition to say what she does about Taylor.
Taylor did himself no favors attending a rally in New York City called “Global Citizen 2017” which encouraged continuing foreign aid and forging partnerships while bringing increased oversight and transparency to the practice. His short one-minute speech is cringe-worthy with its variation on “The Marine Corps Hymn,” but what it really provides is anyone who fears black helicopters more than enough reason to jump ship.
He also started his congressional career by introducing a bill to amend the Fair Housing Act to include “sexual orientation and gender identity as classes protected against discrimination in the sale, rental, or financing of housing.” Ostensibly, not a bad bill. But with marriage equality only recently becoming settled law, this proposal probably felt a little “too soon” to social conservatives. For what it’s worth, this bill remains in committee.
But Taylor’s worst offense, according to Jones, is his sometimes criticism of President Trump.
“When I see video of my representative on CNN and MSNBC bashing the president and calling him out as exhibiting a lack of leadership because of his comments on Charlottesville, when in fact he was correct, I find that to be undermining the president and counterproductive as far as moving his pro-America agenda forward,” she told me in a podcast interview in November.
Has Taylor really failed the citizens of the 2nd District and stymied the president’s agenda? As they say, he has a record we can check.
The political website FiveThirtyEight.com has all of the legislation that has come to a House floor vote listed with the president’s position and the congressman’s vote. Based upon the margin of victory Trump had in the 2nd District – 3.4 percent – Nate Silver and company predicted that Taylor would only vote in concert with Trump 73.6 percent of the time.
The reality? Taylor has voted with the president a whopping 98.6 percent of the time and the one time he was out of sync with the president – sanctions on Iran, Russia and North Korea – he voted the same as 418 of his colleagues.
It would seem that what Jones finds fault most with Taylor would be his words. But given the congressman’s other public statements, such as on Veterans Administration accountability, supporting shipbuilding, supporting the move of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, and looking out for service members, Taylor’s rhetoric remains very much in concert with the district.
With the Democrats likely to settle on retired Navy officer Elaine Luria, Republicans will need to determine who can win in a district that only favored President Trump by a narrow margin, yet a representative who still continues to wholeheartedly and smartly advance the conservative agenda.
When 2nd District GOP voters make that decision June 12, I would remind them of Dragnet’s Jack Webb: “Just the facts, ma’am.”