Virginia Primary Showdown: Freedom Caucus Chair Bob Good Vs. Trump-endorsed Challenger

Virginia Primary Showdown: Freedom Caucus Chair Bob Good Vs. Trump-endorsed Challenger

GOP Rep. Bob Good, chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, was involved in a tight primary race Tuesday night against a candidate backed by key Republicans such as former President Donald Trump and former Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

As of late Tuesday night, state Sen. John McGuire led in Virginia’s deep-red 5th District by just a few hundred votes, with Good close behind. If the margin remains within 1 percentage point, the losing candidate may request a recount within 10 days of the election results being certified, according to Virginia state law.

Good could become the first incumbent lawmaker to lose to a primary opponent this year.

In a post on X on Wednesday, Good stated that the race is “too close to call,” but that with provisional and mail-in ballots still being counted, his campaign feels there is still a road to victory. He appeared to refer to the potential of a recount, saying it may take “weeks” to determine a winner.

“We are in a period where the law provides a process for evaluating the accuracy of all the vote totals from election day to ensure everyone can have full confidence in the certified results,” Good told X.

“We believe we can still prevail.”

McCarthy chastised Good, who was one of eight Republicans who voted to remove him from office last year. According to ad tracking firm AdImpact, McGuire outspent Good on the airways, and McCarthy-aligned outside groups outspent the Virginia congressman’s allies as well.

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“This is the Kevin McCarthy revenge tour,” Good told NBC News on Friday during an event in Goochland, Virginia.

“He has devoted his life apparently to trying to exact some revenge on those he holds responsible for him not being Speaker, except himself,” Good told reporters afterward. “But the people of the 5th District are not going to be bought.”

McGuire also had the most sought-after endorsement in Republican primaries: Trump.

McGuire applauded Trump Tuesday night as he declared victory, despite the fact that the contest was still very close.

“We need to work together since there is still much work to be done. I’m your Republican nominee, but I’m not going to take it lightly,” Good said at his election night party, according to a livestream of his remarks on ABC13.

McGuire stated that Trump was “a huge part of our win, and I will not forget that.”

In a campaign statement, the challenger elaborated: “There are still a few votes left to count, but it’s clear that all paths end with a victory.”

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Three weeks before Tuesday’s primary, the former president endorsed McGuire, implying that Good would support Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in the presidential primary. Good’s subsequent endorsement of Trump was insufficient to gain the former president’s favor.

After supporting McGuire, Trump appeared in a TV spot and hosted a tele-rally for him on Monday night, telling fans, “John is running against Bob Good, who is not good.” Despite his moniker, he’s terrible for Virginia.”

McGuire, a former Navy SEAL whose campaign slogan was “We can do better than Good,” told NBC News during a community concert in Powhatan on Friday that Trump’s endorsement helped his campaign.

“I’ve had many people say ‘I don’t know anything about you, never met you before, but if Trump’s endorsing you, I’ve got you,'” McGuire went on. “I believe with all that Trump has been through he has earned the right to call the shots and pick his team.” However, Good has already run against a Trump-backed candidate. In 2020, Good defeated then-Rep. Denver Riggleman in a party convention held by drive-through during the coronavirus epidemic.

Oklahoma Republican Rep. Tom Cole was also on defense Tuesday, but he defeated his main primary opponent, businessman Paul Bondar, who spent millions of dollars on the campaign. Cole, who leads the influential House Appropriations Committee, received a lift from Trump in the race. He recently told NBC News that Trump’s backing was “enormously helpful” as he faced the most contested and expensive primary since his first election in 2002.

Bondar borrowed his campaign $5.1 million of his own money and ran advertisements accusing Cole of losing touch with the 4th District and spending too much time in Washington. Bondar also claimed Cole was not conservative enough, citing Cole’s support for government expenditure and help to Ukraine.

Cole and his cronies bombarded the airwaves with advertisements accusing Bondar of actually being a Texan. Bondar owns property in Oklahoma outside of the 4th District, but he did vote in the Texas primary in March.

In Virginia, Republican voters on Tuesday chose Navy veteran Hung Cao to face Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine in November, according to NBC News. Cao, who received Trump’s endorsement in the election, raised the most money among Republican candidates and defeated two others.

Cao ran for Congress in 2022 but lost to Democratic Rep. Jennifer Wexton by nearly 7 points. He faces a tight campaign against Kaine, who is seeking a third term in a state where Democrats have just won seats in the Senate. Biden won the state by ten points in 2020, while Kaine won his second term by seventeen points in 2018.

In the House, Democrats are selecting a candidate to challenge Republican Rep. Jen Kiggans in the 2nd District, while both parties are selecting nominees in the open 7th and 10th districts.

Retired Army Col. Yevgeny “Eugene” Vindman is expected to win the Democratic nomination for the 7th District, providing Democrats with a high-profile candidate with military experience and good fundraising skills. He expects to keep the seat for Democrats in the fall, despite Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger, another great fundraiser with a national security background, running for governor.

Vindman rose to national prominence during Trump’s first impeachment trial, when he and his brother raised concerns about Trump’s 2019 phone conversation with the Ukrainian president from their position on the National Security Council. Despite being a first-time candidate, he was by far the strongest fundraiser in the election, and he received additional support from outside groups on the airwaves as he competed against more seasoned local politicians.

He’ll face Derrick Anderson, a former Green Beret who defeated former Navy SEAL Cameron Hamilton in a showdown between the party’s establishment and rebel wings. Anderson was supported by a super PAC linked to McCarthy, Republican megadonors, and House Speaker Mike Johnson.

In Virginia’s 10th District, state Sen. Suhas Subramanyam is expected to win the crowded and expensive Democratic primary, as Democratic Rep. Jennifer Wexton is not running for re-election after being diagnosed with progressive supranuclear palsy, a rare and serious condition.

Subramanyam garnered Wexton’s support, which helped him stand out from a crowded field of well-funded Democrats that included state Del. Dan Helmer, former state Assembly Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn, and former Defense Department official Krystle Kaul. He’ll be in the driver’s seat to keep the district for Democrats in the fall, as Democrats have done well previously in this suburban-Washington D.C. area, and will oppose Republican businessman and lawyer Mike Clancy.

Kiggans will face Democrat Missy Cotter Smasal, a war veteran who has received support from every Democratic House member in Virginia. This is a swing district that will be contested in the fall, but Kiggans has a substantial money advantage and ousted a Democratic incumbent to take the seat in 2022.

Georgia also held runoff elections in races where no candidate received a majority of primary votes in March.

In the Democratic-leaning 2nd District, activist Chuck Hand, who pled guilty to a minor crime in connection with the Jan. 6, 2021 attack, lost a Republican nomination runoff.

Brian Jack, Trump’s former White House political director, is expected to win the GOP primary runoff against state Senator Mike Dugan. The Republican will be the overwhelming favorite in November to succeed retiring GOP Rep. Drew Ferguson.

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