Elaine Luria is one of the Democrats vying for the chance to challenge U.S. Rep. Scott Taylor, R-2nd.

She has the blessing of the party elite in Washington. One thing not on her résumé: She voted for Taylor in a Republican primary in 2016 and again in the November general election, when Taylor defeated Democrat Shaun Brown to win the seat.

“Elaine doesn’t make decisions just based on political party,” her campaign manager said by email. “Faced with the options on the ballot, she took a chance on fellow veteran Scott Taylor who promised to bring change and be something different, but he broke those promises.”

Taylor, a former state lawmaker and Navy SEAL, ran for the open seat in 2016 after former GOP Rep. Scott Rigell opted not to seek re-election. Taylor beat U.S. Rep. Randy Forbes in a primary.

Forbes didn’t live in the 2nd district but decided to run in it because a court-ordered redistricting made his district, the 4th, friendly to Democrats.

Virginia primaries are open to any voter. Some Democrats voted in the Republican primary for Taylor, who has a record of supporting LGBTQ rights and was seen as less hard-edge than Forbes. The district includes Virginia Beach, the Eastern Shore, and parts of Norfolk and the Peninsula.

“Like many Democrats in our district, Elaine voted against Randy Forbes in that primary because he had shown during his legislative career to be an extreme voice in Congress, particularly when it came to women’s reproductive freedom, LGBT equality, and preventing gun violence,” Luria campaign manager Kathryn Sorenson said by email.

“Now, after seeing the way that Scott Taylor has acted in Washington and the votes he has taken to create chaos in our health care system, Elaine has decided to run against him.”

Luria announced her run for Congress in January.

Taylor spokesman Scott Weldon responded by email:

“Scott Taylor is the same guy he was in 2016 and has done everything he said he would on the campaign. The only reason Luria is running is because she was promised money by Nancy Pelosi to be another rubber stamp in D.C. The people of the 2nd district will see right through it.”

On Tuesday, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced that Luria was among 24 Democratic candidates to whom the DCCC would provide organizational and fundraising support through a program called “Red to Blue.”

Luria, a retired Navy commander, is among six Democrats seeking the nomination in the June primary to challenge Taylor, should he prevail over a primary opponent on the Republican side.

Brown, the candidate who lost in 2016, is among the Democratic hopefuls, but she is now under a federal criminal indictment charging fraud and theft of government property on allegations she stole from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Summer Food Service Program.

Democrat Karen Mallard, a public school reading specialist, announced in August and is campaigning as a union member who wants a $15-per-hour minimum wage. She said the DCCC’s announcement about Luria tells Mallard she’s doing something right.

“I think the constituents should be the ones to pick their candidates, not the party,” Mallard said. “The people in the DCCC don’t live here.”

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pwilson@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6061

Twitter: @patrickmwilson

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