GOP Representative drops out of run-off race when affair with “the first lady of ISIS” is exposed

AP Photo, File

Rep. Van Taylor represents Congressional District 3 in Texas, the Plano area. He was running for re-election to serve a third term in Congress. On Tuesday he secured a spot in a run-off race in the Republican primary. On Wednesday, he dropped out of the run-off race. It all has to do with an affair that was exposed by the woman with whom he was having the affair.


A politician dealing with the fall-out of an extramarital affair isn’t anything unheard of in politics. The district Taylor serves, ironically, was once the district served by longtime Rep. Joe Barton. He ended his 17 term career in the House when he decided to not run for re-election after an extramarital affair was made public. Taylor’s story doesn’t involve sexually explicit photos on a cell phone as Barton’s story did. Taylor had a nine-month relationship with a Plano resident, Tania Joya, the widow of the most infamous American to join the Islamic State. She has been profiled in The Atlantic and in British tabloids. The Atlantic dubbed her “the first lady of ISIS.”

Taylor and Joya had an affair between October 2020 to June 2021. Taylor is a real estate executive with undergraduate and MBA degrees from Harvard. He spent four years each in the Texas House and Senate. His image was that of a family man, businessman, and a Marine.

Taylor’s campaign website describes him as “Family Man. Businessman. United States Marine.” There’s video footage of him and his wife, Anne, happily walking hand in hand. In a wedding photo, he’s in a Marine dress uniform – they married after he returned from Iraq. They have three daughters.

Joya married John Georgelas who grew up in Plano. He converted to Islam and was a top recruiter for ISIS. In 2013 they took their three children to Northern Syria. Georgelas was known as Yahya Abu Hassan, the most important American fighting for ISIS. He was killed in 2017. That is why The Atlantic labeled her as the first lady of ISIS. Joya was pregnant when she fled to Turkey with her children and then came to Plano to live near her in-laws. She met Taylor through her work as an ex-jihadist helping to reprogram extremists.


When the relationship ended, Joya asked for money to pay off a credit card and other bills. Taylor, it is reported, gave her $5,000 and asked her to keep quiet. She took the money, deposited it in her bank account, and then blabbed to another candidate in the primary race against Taylor. Last Thursday, Joya gave the information to a third candidate in the race, Suzanne Harp. Joya wanted Harp to confront Taylor with the information and tell him to resign his office and get out of the run-off. Harp did not meet with Joya but sent a supporter to interview her. By Sunday afternoon, just two days before election day, National File posted an audio of that 35-minute interview. Breitbart published a post on Monday which included proof of the $5,000 payment deposited in her bank account.

Joya told Breitbart News her affair with Taylor began in October 2020, and they became intimate in November 2020.

“He considered me his girlfriend. He labeled me his girlfriend, his mistress,” Tania told Breitbart News. “I told him that I found him attractive. After that for an entire month, every day during October 2020, he wouldn’t stop messaging me like crazy. It was just so distracting. He was going crazy for it.”

“He said he wanted me to be his loyal, faithful, and permanent mistress,” she claimed.

The last time Joya saw Taylor, Joya says she believed she was threatened. She told Breitbart News that Taylor told her, “Oh, you’re never going to have a career as a therapist because no one will trust you.”


The results on election day put Taylor and Keith Self, a former Collin County judge, in a run-off. Wednesday Taylor conceded to Self.

“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 said in an email to supporters.

Under Texas election law, Self will become the nominee as long as Taylor withdraws in writing to the state Republican Party chair. The deadline is the third day after the deadline for canvassing the results. “If he withdraws by 5 p.m. on March 16, then the other candidate is declared the nominee and the runoff election is canceled,” said Sam Taylor, spokesman for the Texas Secretary of State.

Harp pounced (DMN’s verb, not mine) on Monday night. Her March surprise worked.

On Monday night Harp, having orchestrated the publicity about the affair, pounced.

She called the revelation of the affair “shocking…disturbing and unbecoming of a sitting U.S. Representative” and warned that it would be “dangerous to have compromised and corrupt representation in Washington.”


Taylor was leading in early voting but by election day on Tuesday, the affair was in the news and his support dropped.

Taylor led in early voting with 51.8% in a five-way race, enough to secure the nomination outright. But as it turned out, nearly half the votes were cast on election day and he hadn’t banked enough of a lead to withstand the fallout.

After Joya’s revelations surfaced, his election day share of the vote plunged to 45.2%.

Out of 63,981 ballots, Taylor fell 823 short of what he needed to avoid a runoff.

Support for Self, who served a dozen years as the chief executive of fast-growing Collin County, held steady. He ended up with 26.5% to Taylor’s 48.7%.

Harp ended up with 20.8% – enough to play spoiler but not to make the runoff.

Joya said she never meant to become a part of the election. She also said she didn’t realize the primary was only five days away when she contacted Harp. How could that be? She said she was “annoyed at having to see her ex-lover’s face on billboards as she drove around Plano.” “All I wanted was for Suzanne Harp to just say, ‘Hey, I know your little scandal with Tania Joya. Would you like to resign before we embarrass you?’ But it didn’t happen like that,” Joya told The News.

That sound a little blackmail-y doesn’t it? Resign before we embarrass you? Remember, she already had the money she asked Taylor for and he told her to keep quiet.


“I needed help. I was like, just help me out because that’s the least – the very least – he could do,” she said. “For him, it was like, ‘Okay, on the condition you don’t tell anyone.’ … I didn’t want to tell anybody anything.”

What a mess. It’s like you can’t trust a former jihadist, or something.

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David Strom 1:20 PM | July 18, 2024