Republican contenders scrambling to win the nomination to challenge Rep. Tom Perriello in Virginia's fifth Congressional district
are sparring over taxes and one candidate is trying to get back in antitax crusader Grover Norquist's good graces.
State Sen. Robert Hurt (R-VA) recently signed Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform pledge to oppose any tax increases if elected, and huddled with the group in Washington to say he regretted voting for a $1.4 billion tax increase in 2004 under then-Gov. Mark Warner (D).
Hurt has been criticized as too moderate for the nomination, though he's considered the favorite among a field of lesser known challengers. One conservative blogger hailed the transformation as coming back from the "dark side," then mocked Hurt as thinking his constituents are gullible.
Norquist told CQ Politics
that Hurt "basically made the case that this was not a vote he was comfortable with and that it wouldn't happen again."
That's a far cry from Norquist's sentiment in 2004, when he plastered Hurt's face on the poster below as one of the state's "least wanted"
for being a tax-increasing Republican.
He vowed then to back a primary challenge against Hurt, then a state delegate, but Hurt was later elected to state senate with little trouble.
When candidate Laurence Verga was the first to sign the pledge, Norquist issued a statement saying that Verga understands "Americans are desperately searching for candidates and politicians that will protect their livelihoods and put their wallets ahead of the federal government's coffers."
Norquist challenged the other candidates to sign on to the pledge as well.
In a statement to TPMDC, Verga said Hurt is a "career politician" who has an "atrocious" record on taxes.
A Hurt spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.
As we've been reporting, this district could be the next NY-23, with the candidates attempting to out-conservative one another and even talk radio's Laura Ingraham getting involved.