As Republicans prepare to choose a candidate on Saturday to represent a newly drawn 5th congressional district that now includes much of the Richmond area’s outer suburbs, Rep. Bob Good isn’t budging from his far-right stance of the political spectrum of the party.
Good was the only member of Virginia’s congressional delegation to vote against a $40 billion Ukraine aid package that Congress passed this week. He co-sponsored a resolution two weeks before the Russian invasion to withhold US aid to the vulnerable country until a wall along the Mexican border was completed.
“It was the right vote,” he said in an interview on Friday.
Good also doesn’t care about his rating as the 5th least bipartisan member of the U.S. House of Representatives and sees no reason to work with Democrats whose agenda he strongly opposes. He advocates impeaching President Joe Biden over Democrats’ immigration policies along the southern border.
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In his view, it’s a clear choice for up to 2,000 voters who will gather at Hampden-Sydney College in Farmville on Saturday to decide whether Good or former Charlottesville GOP committee chairman Dan Moy will represent the party in the 5th District general election against the Democratic nominee. Josh Throneburg in November.
“We’re poles apart from the Republican Party,” Good said of Moy, adding, “We basically ignored my opponent.”
Moy, a 27-year-old Air Force combat veteran and adjunct professor of public policy at the University of Virginia, says the creation of a new district marks a good time for Republicans to make a different choice on who represents them in Congress.
“He’s been one of the strongest voices in Washington, DC, but that strong voice doesn’t serve the American people well and it doesn’t serve Republicans well,” the challenger said. “He drives people out of our party.”
The new 5th district includes all or part of 24 cities and counties. It now includes 13,000 voters in Hanover County, as well as all of Louisa, Powhatan, Goochland, Nottoway and Amelia counties.
The district also includes the cities of Charlottesville, Lynchburg and Danville. It extends from north of Hanover, west to Albemarle County, and south to Pittsylvania, Halifax, and Mecklenburg counties on the North Carolina border.
The 5th District nominating convention isn’t the only one where Republicans decide who will represent them in November’s midterm elections, which currently look towering for Biden and Democrats trying to hold on to majorities in both houses of Congress.
In Northern Virginia, more than 21,000 Republicans are expected to brave high temperatures in the 90s on Saturday to vote in a firehouse primary. They will choose from 11 candidates a nominee to challenge Democratic Representative Jennifer Wexton in a newly drawn 10th congressional district anchored in Loudoun County.
Voting will take place at 11 polling stations in seven locations – including three each in Loudoun and neighboring Prince William County – in a Democratic-leaning district. Wexton is one of three Democratic congressional Republicans targeted in Virginia, along with Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-7th, and Rep. Elaine Luria, D-2nd.
Wexton will enter the campaign trail with an advantage, said Larry Sabato, president of the UVA’s Center for Politics, but added, “In a crushing year for Republicans, she could become vulnerable.”
Currently, Prince William’s supervisor Jeanine Lawson leads the GOP fundraising field, with more than $922,000, and is “the apparent frontrunner,” said Bob Holsworth, a veteran political scientist from Richmond.
But Lawson faces competition from Hung Cao, a retired US Navy captain and resident of Loudoun who has raised more than $455,000. He was a Vietnam refugee in the United States when the war ended nearly 50 years ago. The district which has 15.5% of Asians in population.
Mike Clancy, senior vice president of Oracle Corp., raised more than $397,000 for the race. Brandon Michon, who became a conservative TV news celebrity for his public denunciation of the Loudoun County School Board for its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, raised approximately $292,000.
Loudoun businessman Caleb Max raised $222,000. He is the grandson of former 10th District Representative Frank Wolf, a Republican who held the seat for 34 years, from 1981 to 2015.
“There’s a bunch of good ones — the one that’s going to come out of this is someone who will be competitive in November,” said Geary Higgins, 10th District GOP committee chairman and former Waterford Senate candidate in Loudoun.
Elsewhere in Northern Virginia on Saturday, Republicans will choose from five candidates to challenge Democratic Rep. Don Beyer in a new 8th congressional district that still looks reliably Democratic. Karina Lipsman, who came to the United States as a refugee from Ukraine more than 30 years ago, is leading the fundraiser with around $65,000.
The 5th District remains solidly Republican although it has been redrawn to include part of Hanover and all of Goochland, Powhatan, and Amelia counties in the outer suburbs of Richmond.
“The district is very tough for a Democrat to win,” said Sabato, who lives in its northern end in Charlottesville.
Good, who lives in Campbell County in the Lynchburg area, welcomes the redesigned district, even though about a third of voters will be new. The Old Quarter was “cumbersome”, shaped like a Christmas tree and took five hours to drive from one end to the other, he said. “That makes a lot more sense.”
The nominating convention favors Good, who ousted former Rep. Denver Riggleman two years ago in an unusual drive-thru convention at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now the incumbent, Good aligns himself firmly with former President Donald Trump and calls himself a “biblical and constitutional conservative.”
It throws Moy, who had worked for Good’s election two years ago against Democrat Cameron Webb, with Republicans who have publicly criticized the former president for his attempt to block Biden’s election certification and the ensuing assault on the Capitol by pro-Trump rioters on Jan. 6. 2021.
Moy said he would have voted to certify Biden’s election on Jan. 6, 2021, because he considers it a duty imposed by the oath of office. “That’s what you do,” he said.
But Republican politics has changed dramatically in the Trump era, Sabato said. “Just a few years ago, Moy would have been classified as a conservative right-wing Republican.”
Moy calls himself a conservative Christian whose priorities are strong national defense and more economic opportunity for parts of the district that have lost industries, jobs and, as a result, people.
“The biggest export in our area is young people,” he said, accusing Good of being “disappeared” on matters important to the district and criticizing him for the closure of congressional offices in Danville and Charlottesville.
Moy also criticizes Good for his votes against the Ukraine aid program and the National Defense Authorization Act. “Deputy Good doesn’t have a strong commitment to national security and our military,” he said.
He said he expects a tight nominating contest on Saturday, with between 1,000 and 1,500 people likely to attend out of the 2,000 registered.
But political commentators say it is highly unlikely that Moy can defeat Good in a convention controlled by the party’s conservative base.
“It would definitely be a surprise if he was defeated,” Holsworth said.