Mark Warner has a challenger for his US Senate seat — Scott Taylor

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Scott Taylor speaks during his campaign rally at Regent University in 2018. (Southside Daily file)
Scott Taylor speaks during his campaign rally at Regent University in 2018. (Southside Daily file)

Former Rep. Scott Taylor said he’s running for U.S. Senate in Virginia, hoping to unseat Democrat Mark Warner.

Taylor, a Republican, made the announcement Monday on Fox News Channel’s “Fox & Friends,” saying “we have a leadership crisis in Virginia” and “we need a fresh start in the Senate.”

Taylor, an ex-Navy SEAL, lost the 2nd Congressional District to Rep. Elaine Luria in November 2018. The 2nd district includes Accomack and Northampton counties, portions of York County, and the cities of Virginia Beach and Williamsburg and parts of the cities of Norfolk and Hampton.

During Taylor’s 2018 campaign, his staffers were found to have forged signatures on a petition to get Democratic challenger Shaun Brown on the ballot. The move is an old political tactic — an effort to split a candidate’s opponent’s votes.

The third-party candidate was Shaun Brown, a former Democrat who had lost to Taylor during his first run in 2016.

A judge ultimately removed Brown from the ballot after Democrats sued. The judge overseeing the lawsuit said there was evidence of “out-and-out” fraud by Taylor’s staffers.

In May, a special prosecutor presented two indictments of election fraud against someone who worked on Taylor’s failed re-election campaign. Taylor has maintained that he was aware of the effort to get Brown on the ballot by his campaign staffers. But he said he knew nothing of any wrongdoing and fired campaign staff tied to the scandal.

Prosecutor Donald Caldwell said in May that “what actually happened within the campaign headquarters is still a subject of investigation due primarily to the lack of cooperation of key individuals with the (Virginia State Police) investigator.”

Warner is a former Virginia governor and was first elected to the Senate in 2008. He’s the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee and has accused President Donald Trump of disrespecting U.S. allies and ingratiating himself with adversaries.

“Scott Taylor is an experienced campaigner, having run or explored running for five different offices in the past decade,” Warner’s campaign manager, Bruce Sinclair, wrote in an email. “We welcome Scott Taylor to the race and wish him the best of luck in the Republican primary.”

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