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Man who wants to run for Congress challenges incumbent, a former Navy SEAL, to wrestling match

By BILL BARTEL | The Virginian-Pilot | Published: June 13, 2018

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (Tribune News Service) — A businessman seeking to run for Congress as an independent is challenging U.S. Rep. Scott Taylor to a combination wrestling match/debate.

Aldo DiBelardino said if Democratic candidate Elaine Luria wants to participate, he'll wrestle her, too.

Taylor, a Republican, and Luria, a Democrat, won primaries Tuesday and are competing in the Nov. 6 election in the 2nd Congressional District. DiBelardino, 49, filed as a 2nd District candidate with Virginia Department of Elections but has not yet been approved to be on the Nov. 6 ballot, a department spokeswoman said.

"I acknowledge that this odd but I think it’s odd in a way that will serve voters. ... They need better insight," DiBelardino said. "Part of politics, on different levels, is about entertainment and showmanship. A wrestling debate is an opportunity to not just entertain voters but also pull them into debate dialogue."

DiBelardino, owner of X-IT Products, a manufacturer of lightweight fire escape ladders, said his idea is that the competition would follow "standard high school wrestling rules."

He noted Taylor, a former Navy SEAL, had wrestled in his younger days.

DiBelardino stated in a news release that Luria, a retired Navy commander, was only invited to the debate but said during an interview that she could also wrestle.

"If Elaine says she wants to wear a singlet and wear proper gear and get out there on the mat, I’m not going to be the man to stop her. More power to her," he said.

The married father of five said he was running because "as a man of faith I feel compelled to. I’ll be 50 next year and I woke up one day and realized I didn’t want to wake at 75 on the porch and realize I should have stood up at 50. So here I am standing up for what I believe what is right in true."

DiBelardino said he was inspired to challenge the candidates by the popularity in parts of Asia and Europe of chessboxing – a event where competitors play chess and box.

When asked about the offer, Taylor spokesman Scott Weldon said, “Rep. Taylor is currently wrestling in Washington in an Appropriations Committee markup to support our troops.”

©2018 The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, Va.)
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