Taylor’s Unforced Error

Over the past few weeks, Virginia’s Second Congressional District has not been part of the national discussion.

Here in the home of the largest concentration of military power on the Atlantic Coast, instead of discussing the passage of the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act – which includes preserving our bases from another round of base realignment and closure, a 2.6 percent pay raise for service members, increased training for surface warfare officers, and a fourth Ford-class carrier – we are treated to “petition gate.” The act, while signed by the president, still has to be funded, and the Congressional role in passing such a spending bill often goes unnoticed.

Therein lies the true tragedy of this immature, cute, and ill-advised “trickster” maneuver by some members of the Congressman Scott Taylor re-election campaign to work for righting a purported wrong for their last political opponent, Shaun Brown. Instead of discussing what truly matters – and the actual role of government, as it doesn’t get more Article I than Congress funding defense – we have been treated to juvenile tactics that result in wasted tax dollars and a special prosecutor.

Taylor is said to have known that the last-minute petition drive was happening.

“Taylor has said his staff did nothing wrong and only wanted to assure Brown a place on the ballot with him and Democrat Elaine Luria,” reports Dave Ress of The Daily Press. “Four paid Taylor staffers gathered signatures in a two-day blitz shortly before the deadline for turning in ballot petitions. It also was two months after Brown, of Hampton, dropped her bid for the Democratic nomination in the wake of her indictment on federal corruption charges.”

Any reasonable person who has been involved in politics knows that signing a petition for a candidate to appear on a ballot – even your opponent – is a form a political etiquette. It helps with democracy.

However, it’s one thing to merely sign one’s name on a petition and quite another to actively solicit for your opponent and turn in petitions that, if allegations and some media reporting are accurate, may have forged signatures.

We are now treated to an investigation by a special prosecutor (taxpayer dollars) and a lawsuit against the state by the Democrats to remove Brown’s name from the ballot (more taxpayer dollars).

If that is not frustrating enough for a conservative to stomach, it is the completely unnecessary element of the whole fiasco.

What is unfortunate is Taylor, as an elected official, has actually been doing a good job.

The NDAA has been signed, tax cuts have passed, he’s fighting for the VA – all things conservatives and independents hope for and expect from a representative of this district.

Instead, we see Elaine Luria, a pro-choice liberal who now regularly includes her military title of “Commander” before her name in press releases (a not unnoticed reminder to her former enlisted opponent Taylor of her place and his), questioning Taylor’s “dirty” and “deceptive” behavior.

The irony is that there was one debate scheduled between these two with WHRO on Oct. 23. Because WHRV, a WHRO affiliate, first broke this story, Taylor has now dropped from the debate claiming the station has been unfair in its coverage. So now there is a debate over debates.

The Luria campaign, of course, has no problem with this dragging on. Her campaign likely perceives that voters will view her as taking the high ground.

So, as usual, it’s the voters who will suffer.

They will suffer in the short term due to a lack of germane and quality information relevant to a Congressional election. And they could suffer in the long-term, should Luria, with her not widely known and dangerous policies, actually get elected. Not to mention if this fiasco inextricably changes Virginia’s ballot laws.

All this, because of Taylor and his team’s unforced and unnecessary errors.

This column appears in The Princess Anne Independent News