The Bull Elephant has learned that Virginia Beach attorney Pat Cardwell will announce his bid to succeed the rretiring Rep. Scott Rigell tomorrow. Cardwell had been planning a run against Rigell up until Rigell’s surprise announcement today.
We understand that news of Cardwell’s impending primary challenge, along with the fact that Dave Brat’s 2014 campaign team is working for Cardwell, leaked to Rigell. This seems likely to have influenced the timing of the Congressman’s decision. Rigell has been under fire from conservatives in his district over controversial votes where he and the 10th District’s Barbara Comstock have split with the more conservative wing of Virginia’s Republican Congressional delegation.
We have learned that within an hour after Rigell’s announcement this afternoon, the General Assembly’s Virginia Beach delegation gathered in Sen. Frank Wagner’s office to discuss what it meant for them. Our understanding is that the most notable development arising out of that meeting was Del. Scott Taylor’s (R-Virginia Beach) private announcement to his colleagues and staff that he was going to run for the now-open seat, setting aside—for now—his Lieutenant Governor ambitions.
A number of TBE readers have indicated Taylor made a robocall in Virginia Beach earlier this evening in which polled activists about whether they would support his run for Congress. It seems highly unlikely that Taylor has a federally-compliant PAC established already, so we are certainly curious about how this robocall was paid for. Those with whom we’ve spoken who received the call said it did not have any “Paid for by” disclaimers.[UPDATE: From the comments, there is a suggestion that the calls did indeed have a disclaimer; it remains unclear what committee would have paid for it, though.] I hope Taylor was properly advised on how to stay on the right side of campaign finance laws here, as a campaign finance violation right off the bat is no way to start a run for Congress.
Also rumored to be considering a run (though we think this is less rumor than mere speculation) is 4th District Rep. Randy Forbes. Under new district lines ordered by a federal court last week, Forbes represents a district that tips toward the Democrats. The speculation is that Forbes could take advantage of the open seat in the neighboring district to keep serving in Congress. (Under Virginia law, any voter of the state is qualified to run for any Congressional district seat).
We think such speculation is pretty far fetched, particularly considering there is a good possibility that implementation of the new lines will be stayed by the Supreme Court in the near future. Forbes won’t take the leap so long as there is any risk that the new district lines won’t take effect until next year, or that the lower court’s decision could be reversed altogether.
Like with the 5th District, this open seat could draw any number of office-seekers, so there is nothing settled yet. But, at this juncture it certainly looks like there is a clean conservative/moderate divide between the Tea Party-friendly Pat Cardwell and Scott Taylor, who politically appears to hew more closely to Rigell than, for instance, to Dave Brat or Rob Wittman.
According to Cardwell, he is running because:
Washington insiders have completely lost touch with the American people. Republican leadership is spineless and will cave to spendthrift Democrats and greedy Washing special interests as evidenced by the recent votes on the outrageous Omnibus spending bill. I am running for Congress because the Washington machine must be stopped before our nation becomes a total financial disaster.
That certainly sounds like a message that will resonate loudly in this particular political environment. Taylor, however, is a popular former Navy SEAL, and is also a skilled campaigner whose “establishment” ties are likely to garner him significant funding for this race. If he succeeds in getting the 2nd District GOP Committee to select a primary, over the objections of conservatives seeking to host a convention, he will be very tough to beat.
Stay tuned for a rumble.