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Virginia primaries: GOP taps Taylor for rematch with Luria; Democrats back Webb vs. Good

Three GOP seats flipped to the Democrats in 2018

Virginia Rep. Elaine Luria at an October town hall in Virginia Beach after she came out in support of an impeachment investigation. She faces a 2020 rematch with her predecessor, Republican Scott Taylor, in the 2nd District.
Virginia Rep. Elaine Luria at an October town hall in Virginia Beach after she came out in support of an impeachment investigation. She faces a 2020 rematch with her predecessor, Republican Scott Taylor, in the 2nd District. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former Rep. Scott Taylor won a three-way Republican primary Tuesday in Virginia’s 2nd District, securing a chance at a rematch against freshman Democrat 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 Rep. Denver Riggleman at a party convention earlier this month.

With 61 percent of precincts reporting in the 2nd District, Taylor, a former Navy SEAL, was leading with 48 percent when The Associated Press called the race. Navy veterans Ben Loyola and Jarome Bell trailed with 28 percent and 24 percent respectively.

Taylor represented the Virginia Beach-anchored 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 Taylor was too big of a risk for Republicans to nominate, citing his 2018 loss and a prosecutor’s statement that the investigation was continuing and more indictments were likely. Tuesday marked Loyola’s second loss in a GOP primary for the 2nd District — he also finished second in 2010, when Taylor also ran and finished fourth.

Trump carried the district by 3 points in 2016, and Republicans hope Luria’s early support of the House impeachment inquiry has made her more vulnerable. 

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

Taylor was the top fundraiser in the primary, with $677,000 raised and $262,000 in the bank as of June 3. In contrast, Luria, who was unopposed in the Democratic primary, had $2.65 million on hand. 

Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the general election Lean Democratic

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Webb wins 5th District

In the 5th District, Webb was leading the four-way Democratic primary with 69 percent when the AP called the race with 64 percent of precincts reporting. A trio of Marine veterans trailed him: Claire Russo with 18 percent, RD Huffstetler with 9 percent and John Lesinski with 5 percent.

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

Webb, who is in his late 30s, served in the Obama White House’s health policy team 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.

Webb next face Good, who won the GOP nomination at at a party convention that Riggleman and his supporters claim was rigged by a small but locally powerful faction that wants to pull local Republicans to the right.

Trump carried the district, which stretches from the D.C. exurbs to the North Carolina border, by 11 points in 2016. Inside Elections rates the general election Solid Republican.

Democrats are hoping to capitalize on the GOP 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 were also involved in the Democratic primary. 314 Action, which supports candidates with STEM backgrounds, spent $307,000 on behalf of 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 on Huffstetler.

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