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US Rep. Van Taylor ends reelection campaign after allegation of affair

Taylor made the stunning announcement hours after he finished his five-way primary with 49% of the vote, forcing him into a primary runoff.

COLLIN COUNTY, Texas — U.S. Rep. Van Taylor, R-Plano, has decided to end his reelection campaign after he was forced into a primary runoff amid 11th-hour allegations of infidelity.

It comes just hours after he finished his five-way primary with 49% of the vote, just missing the cutoff for winning the primary outright. The runner-up was former Collin County Judge Keith Self.

WFAA has learned that Taylor has since called his runoff opponent, Self, to confirm he’s bowing out of the race.

Taylor made the stunning announcement Wednesday, writing in an email to supporters: "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. I want to apologize for the pain I have caused with my indiscretion, most of all to my wife Anne and our three daughters," he wrote.

The day before the primary, the conservative outlet Breitbart News posted a story, which The Texas Tribune has not been able to independently verify, that claims that Taylor had a monthslong affair with a Plano woman, Tania Joya, who alleged he paid her $5,000 to keep quiet. The publication reported that she provided it a phone screen shot purporting to be communications with Taylor and a bank record showing that she deposited $5,000 into her account.

Taylor is married with three children.

Joya is known as a former jihadist who was once married to a commander for the Islamic State. Tabloids have referred to her as “ISIS bride.”

Efforts to reach Joya by the The Texas Tribune were not immediately successful Wednesday.

Taylor, a Marine and a former state senator from Collin County, was first elected in 2018 to represent the 3rd Congressional District in the Dallas suburbs. 

Taylor was a moderate conservative who often worked across the aisle and was respected by many on both sides. However, is four primary challengers on Tuesday criticized his vote last year for a commission to investigate the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Self got 27% behind Taylor in the primary Tuesday. He was followed by Suzanne Harp at 21%, and the two remaining challengers were in the low single digits.   

According to the Texas Secretary of State, Taylor has until March 16 to remove his name from the ballot before the May 24 runoff election. Staff for Taylor told WFAA that Taylor has filed paperwork with the Republican Party of Texas to remove his name from the runoff.

While Taylor might be removing his name, what happens after that is a little uncertain. Would Keith Self advances on to November’s general election, or does face the third place candidate in a runoff?

The Secretary of State’s office and the Republican Party of Texas are both trying to figure that out right now.

Nevertheless, the development is a significant political downfall in Collin County in which a sitting congressman resigning – after admitting to an extra-marital affair.

WFAA's chief political reporter Jason Whitely contributed to this report. 

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