Virginia Del. Scott Taylor hasn’t taken well to Rep. J. Randy Forbes’ decision to switch districts.
But new polling from the Taylor campaign suggests he may be competitive with the congressman in the Virginia Beach-based 2nd District.
Taylor still trails Forbes in the TelOpinion poll of 300 GOP primary voters, but his lead is within the margin of error.
[Related: Randy Forbes Switches Virginia Districts for 2016 Race]
Thirty-nine percent of voters said they would vote for Forbes if the primary were held the day the poll was conducted (May 2), including 10 percent who said they were leaning to Forbes.
Thirty-five percent of primary voters said they’d vote for Taylor. That included 10 percent who said they were leaning toward voting for him. Twenty-two percent of voters said they were “not sure.” The margin of error was plus or minus 5.7 percent.
Fifty-six percent of voters had a favorable view of Forbes and 18 percent had an unfavorable view. Half of them had a favorable view of Taylor with 8 percent viewing him unfavorably.
Taylor, a former Navy SEAL and Iraq War veteran, entered the race for the GOP nomination soon after 2nd District Rep. Scott Rigell announced he would not seek re-election in January.
Taylor’s House of Delegates seat is located in the heart of Virginia Beach. Voters in his district account for about 12 percent of the voters in the 2nd Congressional District.
Forbes made the announcement with Rigell’s blessing — but not Taylor’s.
“The notion that this position — which is a sacred, honorable position — can just be passed off via congressman like a football is disgusting,” Taylor told WVEC in January.
In the money
As a sitting member of Congress, Forbes has been expected to have the edge in this primary.
He’s dominated in fundraising, hauling in $361,000 in the first quarter of the year and ending the period with $875,000. Much of his fundraising, The Virginian-Pilot has noted, came in after announcing he was switching districts.
Taylor brought in $105,000, including a $10,000 personal loan. He ended the quarter with $53,000 in the bank.
Forbes has said he moved districts to have a better chance of staying in office and keeping his seniority on the Armed Services Committee, a key position because of the military’s importance in coastal Virginia.
Voters in Taylor’s poll were equally split over whether that reasoning made them more or less likely to vote for Forbes.
When read a statement about Forbes running for the 2nd District for political reasons, 60 percent of voters said they’d be “much less” or “somewhat less” likely to vote for him.
In a poll Forbes commissioned before entering the race, 61 percent of voters said they wanted Forbes to remain in Congress to preserve that committee seniority for Virginia.
Twenty-three percent of voters agreed with the statement that Forbes was a “carpetbagger” who had “no business coming here to run for Congress.”
Forbes led Taylor 43 percent to 24 percent, with a third undecided, in the Public Opinion Strategies poll conducted Feb. 2 and 3.
The primary is June 14.