July 23rd, 2024

GOP contest between Bob Good and John McGuire highlights primary slate in Virginia

By Matthew Barakat And Ben Finley, The Associated Press on June 18, 2024.

FALLS CHURCH, Va. (AP) – One of America’s most conservative congressmen is facing a serious primary challenge after his opponent was endorsed by former President Donald Trump, while voters in two other districts are nominating candidates to fill two open seats in Virginia’s primary election Tuesday.

Rep. Bob Good, who chairs the hard-right House Freedom Caucus, is seeking a third term representing Virginia’s 5th Congressional District, but state Sen. John McGuire has mounted a strong challenge that highlights frictions in the party.

On the Democratic side, voters are looking to nominate candidates who can hold open seats being vacated by popular incumbents Abigail Spanberger and Jennifer Wexton.

Statewide, voters selected Hung Cao as the Republican nominee to the U.S. Senate to take on Democrat Tim Kaine.

Here’s a look at the major battles on the ballot:

House District 5

Conventional politics might suggest a congressman with the conservative credentials of Good would be safe in a primary. But he earned the wrath of Trump when he endorsed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for president. He switched back to Trump after DeSantis dropped out, but Trump is endorsing McGuire and portraying Good as a backstabber.

Trump continued to bash Good as he campaigned for McGuire in a telephone rally Monday night.

“Unlike Bob Good, John McGuire will not let you down,” Trump said, adding that McGuire is “strong on the border” and “will always defend your under-siege Second Amendment.”

Good, for his part, says he considers Trump the best president in his lifetime and only endorsed DeSantis because Trump is constitutionally limited to only one more term.

Good also alienated Republican insiders by voting to oust House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, throwing the party into a measure of chaos.

Seeking to capitalize is McGuire, a state legislator and former Navy SEAL who has echoed Trump’s attacks on Good, calling him a “never Trumper.”

Good has bashed McGuire as a serial campaigner who announced his congressional bid just one week after winning election to a four-year term in the state Senate.

If Good loses, he would be the first House incumbent to go down to a primary challenge this year, with the exception of one race in which two incumbents faced off due to redistricting.

The winner will face one of three Democrats: Gloria Tinsley Witt, Gary Terry or Paul Riley.

The 5th Congressional District stretches from Charlottesville in the north, past the far western suburbs of Richmond, through Lynchburg and down to Danville and the North Carolina border.

House District 7

Spanberger is giving up the seat in northern and central Virginia to run for governor in 2025. The district tilts just slightly blue, and seven Democrats are seeking the seat. Leading the field is political newcomer Eugene Vindman, a military veteran who gained a measure of fame for his role in Trump’s first impeachment. Four current and former elected officials – Briana Sewell, Margaret Franklin, Andrea Bailey and Elizabeth Guzman – are also in the race.

On the Republican side, fundraising figures suggest the top two contenders are Derrick Anderson and Cameron Hamilton. Anderson is a former Army Green Beret and Hamilton is a former Navy SEAL.

House District 10

Wexton is not seeking reelection to her northern Virginia seat after being diagnosed with a rare, incurable neurological illness. The race to succeed her has attracted a field of 12 Democrats and four Republicans in a district that now tilts toward Democrats.

Democratic candidates include former Virginia House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn, state Sens. Dan Helmer, Suhas Subramanyam and Jennifer Boysko, and former Virginia Education Secretary Atif Qarni. Wexton has endorsed Subramanyam.

Republicans include Aliscia Andrews, who ran for the seat four years ago, and lawyer Mike Clancy.

House District 2

In the congressional district that spans Virginia’s coast, Missy Cotter Smasal and Jeremiah “Jake” Denton IV are competing for the Democratic nomination.

Smasal is a Navy veteran who runs a nonprofit that honors fallen servicewomen. Denton is a constitutional law and civil rights attorney who comes from a military family. Connection to the armed forces is often a calling card in the 2nd District, which is home to many veterans and several military installations and is adjacent to the nation’s largest Navy base in Norfolk.

The winner will take on Congresswoman Jen Kiggans, a former Navy helicopter pilot and state senator who was elected in 2022.

U.S. Senate

In the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, Navy veteran Cao prevailed over his four opponents for a chance to try to unseat Kaine, a Democrat who is seeking his third term as the state’s junior U.S. senator.

Cao had the most money and previous campaign experience running for higher officer among the Republican primary contenders. He also had Trump’s endorsement.

Cao defeated Scott Parkinson, a former congressional staffer for Ron DeSantis, as well as Jonathan Emord, an author and lawyer who often cites his court battles against the Food and Drug Administration. The other Republican candidates were Eddie Garcia, a U.S. Army veteran who owns a mobile app that serves veterans, and Chuck Smith, a former Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps commander and an attorney.

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Finley contributed to this report from Norfolk.

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