Rep. Scott Taylor pulls out of WHRO debate, cites bias by employee of station

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. – Congressman Scott Taylor has pulled out of the upcoming debate between himself and Democratic nominee Elaine Luria ahead of the November election for Virginia’s second congressional district.

WHRO President Bert Schmidt confirmed in a statement to News 3 writing, “Congressman Taylor spoke with me last week and confirmed that he was dropping out of a debate that had been scheduled to air on WHRO-TV and WHRV-FM.”

WHRO was slated to put on the debate on October 23, but Taylor said in a statement that he is pulling out because of an employee with the media station who is “a rabid anti Scott Taylor attacker online and even called Trump supporters ‘thumbless imbeciles’.”

Schmidt responded to the accusation saying, “WHRO has regularly hosted impartial congressional debates. We’re sorry he dropped out. We think it’s the voters who lose out.”

The pulling out of WHRO’s debate comes after signatures collected to let Independent candidate for Congress Shaun Brown on the ballot have come into question after several people came forward saying they never signed the petition. Taylor’s staff helped in the efforts to get Brown on the ballot by collecting signatures.

Now, a special prosecutor is investigating whether Taylor’s staff did anything illegal. The Virginia Democratic Party says they now have 35 sworn affidavits from people or family members who say they never signed the petition.

WHRO was the first to report the controversial signatures collected on behalf of Shaun Brown.

“It’s becoming clear that as he dodges questions about his role in this scandal, Congressman Taylor is terrified of facing Commander Luria one on one, whether that’s on the ballot or on the debate stage,” said Kathryn Sorenson, Elaine Luria’s campaign manager.

The televised debate was reportedly to be a debate moderated by respected members of the community and press corps, according to Sorenson.

Full statement from Congressman Taylor: 

I am very much looking forward to debating Elaine Luria. We are confident Nancy Pelosi’s hand picked candidate’s policies do not match up with the majority of our district. Our team has given dates for two debates (they are waiting for Luria’s confirmation), and we are working on a third. WHRO, was alerted in writing and with evidence that their employee who has written, and in part, is helping to organize the debate is a rabid anti Scott Taylor attacker online and even called Trump supporters “thumbless imbeciles”. We do debates in fair and neutral forums, Luria should demand the same.

Full statement from Elaine Luria’s campaign:

Today, The Virginian-Pilot reported that Congressman Scott Taylor has dropped out of the only scheduled debate in Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District because he is “upset with the station’s news coverage of a controversy involving his campaign staff.”
“It’s becoming clear that as he dodges questions about his role in this scandal, Congressman Taylor is terrified of facing Commander Luria one on one, whether that’s on the ballot or on the debate stage,” said Kathryn Sorenson, Elaine Luria’s campaign manager.
The WHRO-sponsored debate was scheduled for the evening of October 23 and was set to be a televised debate moderated by respected members of the community and press corps. The debate would have offered every resident of the 2nd Congressional District the opportunity to hear from their candidates free of charge.

Related links: 

Special prosecutor appointed to investigate petition issue in Virginia Beach congressional race

Dead man’s name appears on petition to get local congressional candidate on ballot

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