Trump and McCarthy sought revenge against top House conservative, but GOP primary too close to call

Cliffhanger in Virginia's high-profile and expensive 5th Congressional District Republican primary

It is a nail-biter in Virginia's 5th Congressional District as one of the nation's most conservative members of Congress is fighting for his political life against a primary challenger backed by former President Trump and former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

Rep. Bob Good, who chairs the hard-right House Freedom Caucus, trailed primary challenger state Sen. John McGuire by 327 votes as of 12 a.m. Wednesday morning, according to unofficial returns in the GOP nomination race in the reliably red southern Virginia district.

Virginia observes the Juneteenth holiday, and a resumption of the vote tabulation for the remaining uncounted ballots in the race may not take place until Thursday. The current margin in the election is less than one percent and if it remains under that level, the race would qualify for a recount according to Virginia law.


Rep. Bob Good speaks at press conference

Rep. Bob Good, chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, speaks alongside fellow members during a press conference at the U.S. Capitol on March 22, 2024. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Good, who is running for a third term in Congress, aims to avert becoming the first House incumbent this election cycle to be ousted by a primary challenger, in a contentious intra-party primary battle that pitted conservatives versus conservatives and Trump against some of his biggest allies in the House of Representatives. 

"We need leaders that know how to put petty differences aside and bring people together for a better future," McGuire, a former Navy SEAL, told supporters on Tuesday night. "And that’s what I’m all about."


His comments came as he prematurely declared victory in a speech at his election party in Lynchburg, Virginia.

Trump-backed challenger John McGuire is locked in a too-close-to-call primary with House Freedom Caucus chair Bob Good

Virginia state Sen. John McGuire, a candidate in the Republican primary for the state's 5th Congressional District, speaks to supporters in Lynchburg, Virginia, on Tuesday, June 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Skip Rowland)

Good did not give a speech at his primary night gathering, which was also held in Lynchburg, but in a social media post he noted that "we’re still waiting on the final election results."

In a race where a whopping $14 million was spent – with much of it targeting the incumbent – Good wrote that "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 incurred Trump's wrath for being one of just a handful of House Republicans to endorse Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in the GOP presidential primaries.

Even though Good avoided criticizing Trump and quickly endorsed the former president after DeSantis ended his White House bid in January, Trump wrote on this Truth Social platform that "the damage has been done!"

The former president last month endorsed McGuire, who also had the backing of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, a conservative firebrand and major Trump ally who is a vocal critic of Good who last year broke with the House Freedom Caucus. The group is considered the most far-right organization of lawmakers in the chamber.

Republican California Rep. Kevin McCarthy

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, a Republican from California, at the U.S. Capitol on Oct. 3, 2023 as he was ousted as House speaker. (Nathan Howard/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

McCarthy also targeted Good, who was one of eight Republicans last autumn who joined with Democrats to vote to oust McCarthy from his leadership position.

Good had the support of Reps. Matt Gaetz and Byron Donalds of Florida, two conservatives who are also strong backers of Trump.

Fellow House Freedom Caucus members, Reps. Chip Roy of Texas and Andy Biggs of Arizona, joined Good in Virginia for a rally on Friday.

Even though he was targeted by Trump, Good spotlighted his support for the former president as he ran for re-election.

It's too close to call as House Freedom Caucus chair Rep. Bob Good faces off against a Trump-backed challenger

Rep. Bob Good, left, a candidate in the Republican primary for the state's 5th Congressional District, greets family members at a watch party in Lynchburg, Virginia, on Tuesday, June 18, 2024. (AP Photo/P. Kevin Morley)

"Happy Birthday to the best and next president of the United States, President Trump!" Good wrote on social media on Friday, which was the former president's 78th birthday.

Good also showed up earlier this spring at Trump's criminal trial in New York City to show his support for the former president.

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