VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A debate scheduled to air on Hampton Roads’ local PBS station won’t feature U.S. Rep. Scott Taylor, who claims one of the station’s employees is biased against him.
The President and Chief Executive Officer of WHRO confirmed the news Monday evening that Taylor had dropped out of the debate scheduled for October 23.
Taylor is the Republican and incumbent candidate out of 3 currently on the ballot to be the representative for Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District. Norfolk businesswomen Elaine Luria represents the Democrat ticket, while community activist Shaun Brown is running as an independent.
Taylor defended his decision to withdraw from the Oct. 23 debate in a statement Monday night, saying that one of WHRO’s employees 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,” the statement went on to say.
The announcement comes amid a special prosecutor’s investigation into accusations that two Taylor staffers forged signatures to get Brown on the November ballot, essentially splitting the Democratic vote between Brown and Luria.
Brown, who was indicted in Dec. 2017 on allegations that she defrauded the federal government of more than $439,000, ran unsuccessfully as a Democrat against Taylor in 2016.
The forged signatures were counted as valid by the Virginia State Board of Elections, which prompted the Democratic Party of Virginia to file a lawsuit against the board in an effort to remove Brown from the ballot.
WHRO’s sister station, WHRV, broke the story that led to the investigation.
“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, in response to Taylor’s debate announcement.
Both Taylor and Luria camps acknowledge other debates are being scheduled.