When Republicans created this decade’s new redistricting maps, perhaps the biggest beneficiary was Collin County Congressman Van Taylor (TX-3). His newly redrawn district shifted from purple to red and he seemed poised to cruise to reelection. Flash forward a few months to Taylor admitting to an affair with an “ISIS bride,” and the next congressman from Collin County is now likely firebrand former county judge Keith Self.
On paper, Taylor was everything that the Republican Party in Texas, at least before the era of Trump, celebrated. He was a veteran who served in Iraq, a former state senator, and a self-described “family man.” In 2020, he got a robust general election challenge from Democrat Lulu Seikaly in a district that was rapidly growing and diversifying. Taylor won with 55 percent of the vote, but the presidential race was far narrower with Donald Trump only besting Joe Biden by one point.
After last year’s redistricting the third congressional district shifted to Trump +14, and Taylor appeared safe from any sort of challenge from a Democrat. The looming specter of being challenged on the right was perhaps there, but Taylor didn’t appear to be a likely target.
Then came the Insurrection. Taylor voted in favor of a bipartisan committee to investigate what led to the storming of the Capitol on January 6, a big no-no for many Republicans. There was also the fact that he was just one of a handful of Texas Republicans to certify that Joe Biden won the 2020 election.
A slew of Republican candidates announced their intention to run against Taylor in the Republican primary. The most formidable of those candidates was former Collin County Judge Keith Self.
After graduating from high school in Amarillo, Self attended West Point Academy. He served a long career in the military, retiring with the distinction of lieutenant colonel. Self was elected county judge in 2006 and served three terms. He was outspokenly conservative throughout his tenure.
When he launched his bid for congress, Self targeted Taylor as a RINO (a Republican in name only). He criticized Taylor’s vote for the January 6 commission, calling it “Nancy Pelosi’s witch hunt.” Self also bashed Taylor’s vote to remove Confederate statues from the U.S. Capitol.
As a candidate, Self is unabashedly rightwing. On the issues page of his website, he talks about not only being against COVID vaccine or mask mandates, but also that he believes “doctors should be allowed and encouraged to prescribe proven treatments that do not meet the narrative of the progressive establishment.” Then there are the usual Republican talking points about “election integrity,” which includes supporting voter ID laws and that voting machines keep a paper trail.
Allegations about Taylor’s affair began circulating in the days before the election. It was enough to force Taylor below the fifty percent threshold needed to avoid a runoff. After Taylor’s statement about the affair, he made it clear he would remove his name from the ballot for the runoff (which he did).
Self will face Democrat Sandeep Srivastava in November.