RICHMOND, Va. — A Democrat running for the state Senate says he thought he was still in the U.S. Army Reserve, but it turns out he hasn't been in the military since he was discharged in 2001.
Gary McCollum — who was recruited by Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe to run in a closely watched contest that could determine which party controls the Senate — had listed on his website and campaign materials that he was currently a major in the Army Reserve.
The former Army Ranger and current executive at Cox Communications has touted his military service during his campaign against Republican Sen. Frank Wagner. The Virginia Beach district where they are competing has a high concentration of current and former military members.
But on Tuesday, McCollum's campaign issued a statement saying he was "informed that his understanding of his current military classification was not correct." The statement was issued after the Virginian-Pilot newspaper first reported the discrepancy.
The statement said McCollum remains proud of his years of service and will change the information on his website and campaign material.
McCollum was discharged from the Army as a major in September 2001, according to Army spokesman Ray Gall. McCollum's service information shows he served in both the Army and the Army Reserve, and transferred to the inactive Army Reserve in June 1992 until his 2001 discharge. As a member of the inactive Army Reserve, McCollum had no formal duties or regularly scheduled commitments to the Army.
The Republican Party of Virginia called on McCollum to withdraw from the race.
"Falsely claiming to be a major in the Army Reserves is an insult to veterans and automatic disqualification for public office," chairman John Whitbeck said in a statement.