Tight Virginia GOP primary between Good, McGuire a test of Trump’s influence

Written by on June 19, 2024

Rep. Bob Good, R-Va., meets with supporters at a primary night election party, June 18, 2024, in Lynchburg, Va.. Via ABC News

(RICHMOND, Va.) —  A contentious and closely watched Republican U.S. House primary in Virginia remains too close for any projection, as House Freedom Caucus chair Rep. Bob Good attempts to fend off a challenge from state Sen. John McGuire, who received endorsements from former President Donald Trump. The outcome of the race could signal the power of Trump’s endorsement.

Good, who was first elected to the House in 2020, had antagonized the former president by initially endorsing his presidential primary opponent, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Trump then attacked Good — an effort to take down the candidate he once endorsed, too.

“If he’s reelected, Bob Good will stab Virginia in the back, sort of like he did with me,” Trump said at a rally for McGuire earlier this week.

In an election year, many are looking at the close race to see the power of Trump’s influence and how his endorsement affected the race.

As of Wednesday morning, it’s not yet clear if Trump’s plan to replace Good with McGuire has panned out. McGuire, who was also endorsed by former Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, has a slim lead over Good by a margin of about 300 votes, according to unofficial election results.

Good has not conceded. In a post on X late Tuesday night, Good thanked supporters, saying, “The entire DC Swamp was aligned against us with over $10 million in attack ads, but with your help we were able to make this race too close to call.”

Good said the campaign will aim to closely follow the vote count “to ensure all the votes are properly counted in the coming days.”

“No matter the outcome, you’ve shown the DC Swamp that you won’t back down from standing for what’s right. Keep the faith and don’t stop fighting now,” Good wrote.

But McGuire has declared victory in the race, striking a different tone than Good.

“My life is a testament to the fact that America is the greatest country on this planet and I’m so honored to have the chance to serve her again… Folks in the 5th can rest assured that should they elect me in Nov., they will have an effective fighter in Congress who will get the job done for them,” McGuire wrote in a thread on X.

“I look forward to working with Trump to beat Joe Biden in November & pass Trump’s agenda in Congress. Trump & McGuire will Make America Great Again!”

Earlier this week, McGuire implied that he thought Good might cheat to win the election or that there could be issues with the election.

“Let’s make this too big to rig tomorrow, so we can lock arms, and make it too big to rig, so we win Virginia for President Trump in November so we can get him back in there and make America great again,” McGuire said at his rally on Monday.

In a phone interview with ABC News on Tuesday, McGuire said it would be “healthy” to question election results in general when asked about the “too big to rig” comments.

When pressed to share any specific concerns about the primary, McGuire pointed to confusion among voters about who Trump endorsed.

“I was at a Food Lion parking lot the other day, and a woman said, ‘Well, who did Trump endorse…[you] or Bob Good?’ And I said, ‘He’s endorsed me,'” McGuire said, adding that Good is trying to “trick” voters — a reference to messaging on Good’s website that created some confusion about Trump’s endorsement.

Before Trump made his official endorsement of McGuire, Good was touting Trump’s endorsement of him in 2022 on his campaign website. The website was then updated to reflect the caveat that Trump hadn’t endorsed Good in his 2024 race.

On Tuesday night, Good eschewed the trappings of a fancy election night hotel ballroom soiree for a gathering with supporters at an Italian restaurant in a strip-mall filled stretch of Lynchburg, Virginia. Inside La Villa, it was subdued, with the restaurant’s normal activity blending with the watch party.

When he entered the restaurant over half an hour after polls closed, Good spent his time glad-handing supporters, greeting each table. He hugged and kissed his family, before picking up a family member’s baby in a “Babies for Bob” bib to continue the tour.

He spent time sitting, thinking and quietly conferring with his wife. He later left the party without speaking to reporters.

It is possible that the candidate who ends up trailing could request a recount. Virginia does not have automatic recounts. According to Virginia state law, the losing candidate can request a recount if the vote margin is less than 1% of the votes cast. The state pays if the margin is less than 0.5%; the requester pays if it is more than that.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


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