Virginia Primaries: GOP Taps Taylor for Rematch With Luria; Democrats Back Webb Vs. Good

June 24, 2020by Stephanie Akin, CQ-Roll Call (TNS)
"I Voted" stickers at a polling station on the campus of the University of California, Irvine, on November 6, 2018, in Irvine, California. (Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)

WASHINGTON — Former U.S. Rep. Scott Taylor won a three-way GOP primary Tuesday in Virginia’s 2nd District, securing a chance at a rematch against freshman Rep. Elaine Luria in a district on both parties’ radar.

And in the competitive Democratic primary in Virginia’s 5th District, physician and health policy professor Cameron Webb won the nomination to face Republican Bob Good, who beat incumbent GOP Rep. Denver Riggleman in a party convention earlier this month.

Taylor, a former Navy SEAL had 48% of the vote when The Associated Press called the race at 7:40 p.m. EDT with 61% of precincts reporting. Ben Loyola was in second with 28% and Jarome Bell was in third with 2%. Loyola and Bell are both small business owners and Navy veterans.

Taylor represented the district for two years before his reelection campaign became embroiled in a signature forgery scandal and he lost to Luria by 2 points in the 2018 midterms.

Two members of his 2018 campaign staff have since been indicted for election fraud for helping to collect fake signatures for an independent candidate in an attempt to siphon votes from Luria. Taylor, who cooperated with the investigation, has claimed “complete vindication.”

Loyola had said it was too big of a risk for Taylor to win the nomination, citing his 2018 loss and a prosecutor’s statements that the investigation was continuing and more indictments were likely.

President Donald Trump won the district by 3 points in 2016 and Republicans, who are targeting it in November, hope that Luria’s early support of the House impeachment inquiry will make her more vulnerable.

Luria, also a Navy veteran, was one of seven freshman House Democrats with national security backgrounds who signed a Washington Post op-ed that helped launch the investigation.

Taylor was the top fundraiser in the primary, with $677,000 received and $262,000 in the bank as of June 3. But Luria, who didn’t have a primary challenger, has $2.65 million cash on hand.

Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race “leans Democratic.”

Webb was leading the four-way race with 69% of the vote when The Associated Press called the race at 7:49 p.m. with 64% of precincts reporting. Claire Russo was second with 18%, followed by RD Huffstetler with 9% and John Lesinski with 5%. All three are Marine veterans.

Webb’s win ends a mostly friendly primary in which all of the Democrats espoused moderate platforms and touted their resumes.

Webb, who is in his late 30s, served in the Obama White House as a health policy professor before becoming an internist and a lawyer. He has been treating coronavirus patients at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, where he also serves as a director of public health policy.

In November, Webb will face Good, a Christian conservative who won at a convention that Riggleman and his supporters claim was rigged by a small but locally powerful faction that wants to pull the local party to the right.

Trump carried the district by 11 points in 2016. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the general election “solid Republican.”

Democrats are hoping to capitalize on the dispute, and the prospect of flipping a district that the party long hoped to make competitive attracted a considerable amount of outside spending to the primary.

Good raised only $186,000 during the primary and had $34,000 in his account on May 24. By comparison, all four Democrats raised and spent more. Huffstelter raised $971,000 and had $287,000 on June 3. Webb raised $722,000 and had $140,000. Russo raised $589,000 and had $202,000. Lesinski raised $300,000 and had $36,000.

Outside groups also got involved to support favored candidates. 314 Action, which supports candidates with STEM backgrounds, spent $307,000 to support Webb.

Women Vote!, the political arm of EMILY’s List, spent almost $498,000 backing Russo. Vote Vets and VoteVets Action Fund spent a combined $117,000 supporting Huffstetler.

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©2020 CQ-Roll Call, Inc., All Rights Reserved

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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