Former Rep. Scott Taylor, R-2nd, officially announced Monday that he is dropping his U.S. Senate bid and will seek to reclaim the U.S. House seat that he lost to Democrat Elaine Luria in 2018.

In an interview on conservative talk show host John Fredericks’ radio show, Taylor said he believes Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., is vulnerable, but that many voters have encouraged him to again seek the Virginia Beach-based congressional seat that he held from 2017 to 2019.

“We have to win the seat back, so I have made the decision we are going to take her on and we are going to take the seat back,” said Taylor, a former Navy SEAL who served in the House of Delegates from 2014 to 2017.

Taylor’s decision removes the best-known Republican among current challengers to Warner, who is seeking a third six-year term in November.

The 2nd is one of Virginia’s most competitive congressional districts, along with the 7th, represented by Democrat Abigail Spanberger. The 2nd has had five representatives since the beginning of 2009: Republican Thelma Drake, Democrat Glenn Nye, Republican Scott Rigell, Taylor and Luria.

Last month, Ben Loyola, a Republican candidate in the 2nd, criticized Taylor after The Hill, a Washington news outlet, reported that Taylor planned to abandon his Senate bid and again seek the House seat.

Among the factors in Taylor’s 2018 loss was the scandal in which his staff approved forged signatures in an attempt to get an independent candidate, Shaun Brown, on the ballot to try to draw votes away from Luria. Taylor has said he did not know about the forged signatures.

“I am responsible for my campaign. I’m responsible for their actions, no matter what happened,” Taylor said Monday. “I was very disappointed, obviously.”

When Fredericks asked Taylor whether he was “ready to apologize for bad judgment,” Taylor said: “Yes, I am certainly sorry for bad judgment and certainly I have to be responsible for my campaign, for my organization. There were certainly folks that did things that were wrong that I had no idea about, but in the end, I’m the leader and I have to be responsible.”

He said he understands that some voters held him accountable in 2018 but said he will “have a campaign that deserves to win” this year.

In the interview, Taylor criticized “these girls that have national security backgrounds,” for helping lay the groundwork for President Donald Trump’s impeachment by giving political cover to moderates.

That was an apparent reference to a September opinion piece that Luria, Spanberger and five other freshmen Democrats with national security backgrounds wrote. The Democrats said at the time that Trump’s actions were grounds for impeachment if the allegations were true. Last month, Luria and Spanberger voted to impeach Trump.

Luria, who retired from the Navy at the rank of commander, said in a statement: “Yes, I am a girl. I may wear heels now, but I wore steel toed boots for 20 years in the Navy. It’s 2020 — girls can do anything.”

Republicans will pick their U.S. Senate candidate in a June 9 primary. Among the remaining candidates seeking the GOP nomination are Omari Faulkner, a Navy reservist who was a basketball player at Georgetown University; and Daniel Gade, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel.

Luria over the weekend announced she is backing Joe Biden for the Democratic presidential nomination. She joins Rep. Don McEachin, D-4th, in endorsing the former vice president. Rep. Don Beyer, D-8th, supports Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind.

acain@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6645

Twitter: @AndrewCainRTD

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