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Texas Republican U.S. Rep. Van Taylor ends campaign after admitting affair with ‘ISIS Bride’
Taylor had been forced into a runoff over support for January 6th investigation
♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com editor
PLANO, Texas (CFP) — Just one day after being forced into a primary runoff to keep his seat, Texas Republican U.S. Rep. Van Taylor, has ended his re-election campaign after admitting to an extramarital affair with the widow of an Islamic jihadist who fought for the terrorist group ISIS
The revelation of the affair appears to have been engineered by one of Taylor’s GOP primary opponents, who leaked an interview with the woman to a right-wing website.
In an email to supporters, Taylor, 49 — a married father of three from Plano whose campaign website described him as a “Family Man” — called the affair “the greatest failure of my life.”
“I want to apologize for the pain I have caused with my indiscretion, most of all to my wife Anne and our three daughters,” Taylor said.
The woman involved, Tania Joya, a British national who lived in Taylor’s district, was the widow of John Georgelas, an American convert to Islam who died fighting for ISIS in Syria in 2017. She has been dubbed as the “ISIS Bride” by the British tabloids.
With Taylor’s departure, former Colin County Judge Keith Self, who finished second in Tuesday’s primary in District 3, will become the Republican nominee and the favorite to win the seat in November in the heavily Republican district in the northern Dallas suburbs.
Taylor, who was seeking a third term in the House, was facing political headwinds from Donald Trump followers angry at him for voting to certify President Joe Biden’s Electoral College win and supporting a congressional investigation into the January 6th riot at the U.S. Capitol.
He won 49% of the primary vote against four challengers, one of whom, Suzanne Harp, helped engineer the public scandal that brought Taylor’s campaign to an end.
The Dallas Morning News reported that Joya revealed the affair to Harp in an attempt to get her to use the information to privately pressure Taylor to leave Congress. Instead, Harp sent a supporter to interview Joya and leaked audio of the interview to National File, a right-wing website that posted it two days before the primary.
Harp finished third behind Taylor and Self.
Joya, who left her husband and fled to Turkey shortly after he took her and their children to Syria, told the Dallas Morning News that she met Taylor through her work helping to reprogram jihadists away from extremism. Their affair lasted nine months, she said.
She also claimed that Taylor had given her $5,000 to help with expenses on the condition she not disclose the affair.
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Texas U.S. House Primaries: Incumbents Henry Cuellar, Van Taylor forced into runoffs
Republican U.S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw crushes opponents angry over his criticism of Donald Trump
♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com editor
AUSTIN (CFP) – Two incumbent Texas U.S. House members, Democrat Henry Cuellar and Republican Van Taylor, have been forced into primary election runoffs after narrowly failing to gain outright majorities in Tuesday’s primary.
In District 28 in South Texas, Cuellar has an 800-vote lead over Laredo immigration attorney Jessica Cisneros, in a rematch of their 2020 contest. They will face each other again May 24, after neither cleared 50%.
In District 3 in suburban Dallas, Taylor –- under fire from Donald Trump supporters for voting to certify President Joe Biden’s Electoral College win and supporting a congressional investigation into the January 6th riot at the U.S. Capitol – came in 48.7% in a race against four challengers.
However, a day after the primary, Taylor withdrew from the race after admitting to an extramarital affair, which will give the nomination to the second place finisher, former Collin County Judge Keith Self.
In other U.S. House races Tuesday, Republican U.S. Rep Dan Crenshaw survived a challenge from primary opponents upset over his criticism of Trump. Crenshaw, a former Navy SEAL seen as one of the party’s rising stars since his election in 2018, took 75% to crush three opponents in District 2 in suburban Houston.
In District 8 in suburban Houston, Morgan Luttrell, a Navy veteran and former adviser in the U.S. Department of Energy who had the backing of Republican leaders in Washington, won 53% in the GOP primary to avoid a runoff.
The contest had been seen as a proxy fight over the future direction of the party between Luttrell and Christian Collins, a political consultant and podcaster who was backed by far-right voices in the House Freedom Caucus. In the end, Luttrell beat Collins by more than 30 points.
In District 28, which stretches from the suburbs of San Antonio to the U.S.-Mexico border, Cuellar took 48.5% of the vote to 45.6% for Cisneros.
Cisneros is running with strong backing of luminaries on the Democratic left in her bid to unseat the more conservative Cuellar, who opposes gun control and is the last pro-life Democrat left in the House.
While Cisneros swept the more urban parts of the district, Cuellar rolled in rural areas and in Laredo, where he has been a political fixture for decades. He went ahead when results from Starr County were finally reported early Wednesday, where he took 70% of the vote.
Cuellar is also running under the shadow of a January FBI raid on his home and office, related to an investigation of donations connected to Azerbaijan. He has denied any wrongdoing.
Republicans, buoyed by Trump’s strong showing among Hispanic voters in South Texas in 2020, have targeted the district as a pick-up opportunity.
The Republican race is headed to a runoff between Cassy Garcia, a former aide to Texas U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, and Sandra Whitten, who was the party’s nominee for the seat in 2020.
In Dallas, the Democratic race to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson in District 30 is headed to a runoff between State Rep. Jasmine Crockett, who took 48%, and Jane Hope Hamilton, a former congressional aide who served as state director for the Biden campaign in 2020, who took 17%.
The winner is likely headed to Congress from the heavily Democratic district. Johnson has endorsed Crockett as her successor.
In Austin, in the Democratic primary for the open District 35 seat, Austin City Councilman Greg Casar won the race without a runoff, making him the favorite to win in November in the heavily Democratic district.