Politico

Texas Republican abandons reelection bid after admitting extramarital affair

Rep. Van Taylor, a second-term Texas Republican, is abandoning his reelection bid after admitting to an extramarital relationship.

Taylor, who led the field after Tuesday’s primary in Texas but failed to secure enough votes to avoid a runoff, admitted to the infidelity in a note to supporters obtained by POLITICO.

“About a year ago, I made a horrible mistake that has caused deep hurt and pain among those I love most in this world. I had an affair, it was wrong, and it was the greatest failure of my life,” he wrote in the note. “I want to apologize for the pain I have caused with my indiscretion, most of all to my wife Anne and our three daughters.”

Salacious details of the affair began circulating over the weekend after the allegations about Taylor were first reported in the conservative outlets National File and Breitbart. The House GOP conference was already buzzing about the reports of Taylor’s extramarital affair, but several of Taylor’s Republican colleagues said they had not heard the news about his exit from the race while walking off the House floor on Wednesday.

After Taylor’s decision became public during a vote series, a half-dozen members privately marveled that the mild-mannered Texan had become embroiled in a scandal over graphic messages he reportedly sent to Tania Joya, divorced from a British man who joined the Islamic State.

“Never screw around that ISIS bride, that’s my strong advice,” one of Taylor’s colleagues quipped, pointing to the reports of the Taylor-Joya dalliance. Joya has since left Islam and spoken out publicly about her experience.

Taylor, who faced Republican blowback for being one of 35 House Republicans to support an independent commission that would probe the Jan. 6 insurrection, nevertheless looked in prime position to survive the runoff after Tuesday. He had nearly 49 percent of the primary vote — well ahead of former Collin County Judge Keith Self, who had 26.5 percent.

In his note, Taylor wrote he’d spoken with Self and “I wish him the best as he seeks to become the next congressman for this district.”

Under state law, Taylor can withdraw his candidacy from the runoff up to three days after the vote is made official later this month. Formally doing so would make Self, the second-place finisher, the party nominee automatically.

Taylor’s North Texas district became competitive throughout the past decade but was redrawn this year into a safe red seat. He replaced retiring Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Texas), a veteran of the Vietnam War. Suzanne Harp, the third-place contender who quickly seized on the reported affair, is the mother of Blake Harp, the chief of staff to Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.).

“My advice to him would be that the things that are most important to him now are the things that he came into being a member with and they’re called wife and children,” said Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas).

“I think that anyone that’s in a circumstance like this needs to be mature and thoughtful about what is best for him and those that he loves best. And Van is a man who has served his state and served his country, and he served in Congress, and he’ll be missed,” Sessions added.

Ally Mutnick and Zach Montellaro contributed to this report.

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