Shaun Brown, the Independent candidate running for the 2nd Congressional District, is not backing down from attacks against her candidacy from the Democratic Party. She recently filed a “motion to intervene” in the suit, filed by state Democrats, seeking to remove her from the Nov. 6 ballot.
Brown’s “motion to intervene” in the suit, she said, is intended to support her position in the case and “have a voice” to counter a Democratic Party suit against the Virginia State Board of Board of Elections calling for her name to be removed from the ballot.
The party wants Brown off the ballot because operatives of GOP incumbent Scott Taylor collected 550 signatures on petitions to help place her on the election ballot.
Taylor is facing Democrat Elaine Luria to determine who will represent the 2nd Congressional District.
The Democrats’ suit assert that Taylor’s scheme was to place Brown, an African American, on the ballot to siphon African American and Democratic votes from Luria, thus improving his chances of winning.
But Brown isn’t buying that. She vehemently asserts she did not know of Taylor’s campaign’s efforts, did not request its help and collected enough signatures on her own to qualify to get on the ballot.
Brown said after state and national Democratic party leaders threw their weight behind Luria last spring, she opted to run as an independent as opposed to competing as a Democratic in the primary race in June.
She said on the day of the June state primary, she and her staff members collected signatures.
Brown said she then drove to Richmond and delivered the petitions in person by the 7 p.m. deadline imposed by the State Board of Elections for an Independent candidate to turn the required number of signatures that would allow her to be placed on the November 6 ballot.
She said later that evening, she was alerted by state officials she had indeed collected the required 1,000 signatures needed to be placed on the ballot.
But due to the actions by the Taylor camp, State Democrats are suing the State Board of Elections, and Commissioner Christopher Piper is the named Defendant.
In Brown’s motion, she said the State Democrats “rigged” the 2nd District nominating process in favor of Luria, over Brown, who is Black, and another White contender.
Brown claims the Democrats have historically denied African Americans full access to participate in the state political process in the form of voters and, in her case, as a candidate for political office.
Across the state and nation, African Americans are the most loyal voting bloc in the Democratic Party coalition.
In her motion to intervene, Brown said “there is no action at law for the State Board of Elections to remove her from the ballot; once she was certified, so plaintiff ( Brown) is left to attempt in equity that which she cannot achieve in law.”
“The complainants (the Democratic Party of Virginia) seeking equitable relief must not have been guilty of any inequitable or wrongful conduct.”
The motion says that Brown is a Black female citizen of Virginia.
Plaintiff (the Democratic Party) has a long history of racism and “disenfranchisement of Black people” in the form of massive resistance (against compliance with the Brown Decision in the 50s), literacy test and poll taxes, used to deter Blacks from full participation in the political process”.
Democrats, according to Brown, “rigged” the 2nd District Democratic primary by handpicking Lauria “securing endorsements, dumping scads of money in her lap and establishing an office for her.”
“That hand-picked candidate voted for Scott Taylor in 2016, who she knew is now running against whose campaign is under investigation for seeking out phony signatures which encouraged this lawsuit.”
“All of this forced Brown to run as an independent.”
The motion said that Democrats are now “attempting to further dissenfranchise Brown, as a Black female, damage her first Amendments rights and “stifle her voice.”
The motion notes that since Brown did collect “in excess of 1000 legitimate, legal signatures in support of her candidacy, this should dismiss the plaintiffs’ (Democratic party’s) motion.”
On August 20, Brown told the Guide that this motion to intervene may be a prelude to a suit where she will claim that state Democrats are “violating my civil rights.”
The suit filed by the Democrats against the state said signatures of 35 residents were on the petitions who said they did not sign them. One woman said her husband’s name appeared on a petition, but the man died last April.
There are allegations of forgery of some signatures, which is against the law.
A special prosecutor is investigating this and even the name of Republican State Delegate Glenn Davis of Virginia Beach was on a petition.
On August 13, the State Democratic party filed its suit to remove Brown.
Shortly afterwards, Brown’s lawyer, Attorney James Ellenson of Newport News, issued a statement in response to the party’s legal action.
“The lawsuit filed by the Democratic Party attempting to remove Shaun Brown from the ballot is simply another example of the desperateness of a
bankrupt ideology based on bullying and duplicity,” Ellenson wrote.
“The Democratic Party has long since lost its way in representing working class people, people of color, minorities, and progressives.”
Brown’s lawyer said she collected “enough valid signatures to earn a place on the ballot in November. To try to remove her now, after having been certified, is
further proof of the lack of commitment by the Democratic Party to our representative democracy born here in Virginia.”
“They ought to be ashamed,” Ellenson wrote in the statement. “Let the people speak for themselves on November 6th.
Ellenson said he is also asking the state Attorney General Mark Herring to investigate the case. The Virginia AG said he would cooperate with Roanoke Commonwealth’s Attorney Donald Caldwell, and the Department of Elections to look into the matter.
Forging information on election materials is a violation of state law, according to the state code.
Brown said a civil rights suit will be based on the State Democratic party’s violation of her rights, naming, of course, those people individually who supported the
In the party’s suit to remove Brown from the ballot, it said Brown’s petitions were “positively riddled with fraud and should disqualify her from the November 6 ballot.
Congressman Taylor said that he fired the campaign consultant and a manager for their involvement in the petition drive.
Taylor’s campaign spokesman, Scott Weldon, told the Washington Post recently, that Brown should remain on the ballot and that Democrats would “stop at nothing” to remove her.
News of the illicit petition drive by Scott’s campaign workers was first reported by the WHRV 89.5 the National Public Radio (NPR) radio outlet in Norfolk.
On August 16, the GUIDE contacted the State Department of Elections about the case. Andrea Gaines, the Department’s Director of Community
Relations and Compliance Support, said in an e-mail that “The Department of Elections has no comment at this time due to an ongoing investigation.”
Brown ran as a Democrat in 2016 against Taylor who pulled in 61 percent of the vote.
Brown is also the target of a federal investigation centered around her allegedly defrauding a USDA food program for the poor by reporting more meals served than actually occurred in 2015.
Recently a federal court tossed the charges. But she will be retried in October.
The 2nd Congressional District is one seat the Democrats hope to flip this year, as the party is experiencing a “blue wave” of support due to growing unpopularity of President Trump.
Luria is a White female Navy veteran and businesswoman and Democrat say she has viable chance of unseating Taylor.
The Democrats need to gain 21 seats to take control of the U.S. House of Representatives and political analysts say that at this point the party is poised to accomplish that goal.
The district did elect a Democrat in 2008 during the party’s blue wave which elected Barack Obama and allowed the party to take control of the House and Senate.
The district, due to GOP-dominated redistricting in 2010, allowed the party to regain control in the 2010 midterm elections. Taylor is running for his third term.
By Leonard E. Colvin
New Journal and Guide