Analysis Culture

Spotlight: Veteran Candidates — Elaine Luria and Scott Taylor (VA-2)

This article is part of a series on veteran candidates for the House of Representatives in toss-up districts. Part One of the series can be found here.

This article should not be seen as an endorsement of any political candidate or party, and does not represent the views of The Freq Media.

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Imagine the perfect candidate for a district containing one of the highest active duty and retired veteran populations in the country, and one that is home to the world’s largest naval station. Are you picturing a Navy SEAL? What about a rugged surface warfare officer in command of some of the most advanced technology in the world? The voters in Virginia’s Second Congressional district have the opportunity to pick between the two, as incumbent Representative Scott Taylor (R) and Democrat Elaine Luria compete for election to the House of Representatives in a highly watched district.

Scott Taylor enlisted in the Navy after high school in 1997. After attending BUD/S, he was assigned to SEAL Team 4, where he deployed to Latin America and learned Spanish. Reenlisting after 9/11, he was deployed to Iraq in 2005. Serving as a sniper, he was severely injured during a mission in Ramadi. After recuperating, Taylor finished his service as a marksmanship and reconnaissance instructor.

Scott Taylor deployed in Iraq as a Navy SEAL.

After the Navy, Taylor worked as a security contractor in Yemen and a real estate developer in Virginia Beach. He earned a degree in International Relations from Harvard University Extension, and was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 2013. His legislative focus was workforce development and veterans’ issues. Taylor was elected to the House of Representatives, where he sits on the House Appropriations Committee, the only freshman Member of Congress on an ‘A’ committee.

Elaine Luria’s military career began at the age of 17, when she applied for the U.S. Naval Academy. Commissioned as a Surface Warfare Officer, Luria deployed 6 times, twice from ships forward-deployed in Japan, conducting missions in the Middle East and Western Pacific. Luria was one of the first female officers to attend Naval Nuclear Power School (her degree is in Physics). Luria’s final duty station was as Commanding Officer of Assault Craft Unit TWO, leading a unit of 400 sailors. In 2017, Luria retired from the Navy after 20 years of service.

Luria mans her station on a naval vessel.

Luria’s next mission was to open a small business, Mermaid Factory, which produces handmade souvenirs and crafts while donating over $50,000 to charities supporting youth arts programs. Her experiences as a sailor, commander, entrepreneur, and mother form the basis of her desire serve her country and improve her community.

The major highlight of the 2018 election so far came in August, when it was revealed that Taylor’s aides had forged signatures on the petition for an independent candidate, Shaun Brown, to be featured on the ballot in November. It is widely believed that this Brown’s candidacy would siphon votes from Luria. Virginia residents have come forward saying their signatures on the petition were forged, and at least 4 deceased people had signed the petition. Taylor claims he and his staff were attempting to help a candidate they felt the Virginia Democratic party had disenfranchised, not to affect Luria’s chances. A special prosecutor has been appointed. An early September poll gave Luria a 6-point lead in light of the accusations.

However, in the weeks since the accusation Taylor has regained the lead, polling at 50-43 over Luria. In a district where President Trump has dismal approval ratings, and Democratic enthusiasm leads the GOP by 10-points, Taylor’s lead is seen as a failure by Luria to pin Trump’s policies and actions to Taylor. Taylor has made clear his differences with Trump, and has successfully managed to convince Virginia independent voters that the signature forgery issue is not what it seems.

According to his campaign website, Taylor is an “advocate for a strong national defense, free markets, VA health care improvements and regulatory reform.” Luria’s more robust campaign site focuses on a range of progressive issues, such as affordable healthcare, universal background checks for firearm sales, and environmental protection. Luria is supported by both the progressive PAC VoteVets and the nonpartisan With Honor.

With two veterans to choose from and a contentious race to control the House, the voters in Virginia’s Second District have a difficult choice with a lot riding on the outcome.

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