Mon. Jul 15th, 2024

Trump, Kevin McCarthy and other Republicans gang up on Freedom Caucus chair in primary

By 37ci3 Jun18,2024

GOOCHLAND, Va. – Rep. Tuesday’s primary vote for Bob Goode is more than the next member of Congress representing Virginia’s 5th District.

“The nation is watching,” the Virginia Republican told a few dozen supporters gathered outside the historic county courthouse on a balmy Thursday. He warned that this race is about “the D.C. establishment swamp that wants to take your place.”

Good, who chairs the right-wing House Freedom Caucus, has told supporters that he is a prime target of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy as he seeks to oust the small group of Republicans who ousted him late last year. McCarthy’s first effort last week fell short Nancy Mays of South Carolina won the primary.

But McCarthy is just one player running against Goode in a race that could see him become the first member of Congress to lose to a primary opponent this year. He also has the most important support in Republican politics working against him: former President Donald Trump.

Trump Good’s opponent, state Sen. John McGuire, endorsed it, a former Navy SEAL and Stop the Steal rally participant, late last month. The former president, who supported Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in the presidential election, wrote on social media that Goode “has been constantly attacking and fighting me up until recently.”

Trump is holding a teleconference for McGuire on Monday night, and he’s a 15 second TV commercial To reinforce McGuire. His endorsement could sway some voters who are skeptical of Good in the deep red district that stretches from the Richmond suburbs to the state’s southern border.

“I’ve had a lot of people say, ‘I don’t know anything about you, I haven’t mentioned it before, but Trump supports you, I have,'” McGuire told NBC News.

Tuesday’s race marks the first time Good has faced a traditional primary. In 2020, Goode asked then-Rep. Denver Riggleman, also endorsed by Trump, at a driver’s convention amid the Covid pandemic.

“I want to say [Good] It was for Trump, against Trump, for Trump, against Trump,” retired McGuire supporter Bruce Jaggard, 76, said Friday at a Village Vibe concert in neighboring Powhatan.

“You never know where he stands,” Jaggard said. “And that worries me.”

Anti-Good coalition

Goode is clearly sensitive to Trump’s endorsement of his opponent, telling NBC News before a brief interview that everyone knows Trump is endorsing his opponent — as if to gloss over any question about it.

Declaring himself “behind President Trump,” Goode added, “I’m sure the president will support me on June 19 after we win.”

The delicate dynamic surrounding Trump was evident during Goode’s event as the congressman referred to “someone” who promised to make him “unelectable.” That person was likely Trump’s top adviser, Chris LaCivita. Speaking to a local Virginia store in January: “Bob Goode won’t be electable when we’re done with him.”

But Trump and McCarthy are part of a broad coalition seeking to oust Good, which includes several of his House GOP colleagues.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, who was kicked out of the Freedom Caucus last summer, has been a major Good critic. At least five other GOP lawmakers have donated to McGuire’s campaign. A House GOP member chartered a bus from Washington to the 5th District on Saturday to help fellow lawmakers campaign for an opponent.

Even a member of Good’s Freedom Caucus, Rep. Warren Davidson broke ranks to support McGuire on Sunday, calling for “reinforcements to help make America great again.”

But as members fight for Good, some of the most outspoken members of the Freedom Caucus are making trips to the district on behalf of their colleagues.

Advocacy for Main Street, a super PAC that supports more centrist Republicans, made a rare move to target an incumbent while also boosting McGuire in the race.

Sarah Chamberlain, president of the Republican Main Street Partnership, recently told NBC News: “She’s going to support Donald Trump and his initiatives on the wall, immigration control.” “These are all things that Bob Goode didn’t do.”

Chamberlain said Goode’s vote to unseat McCarthy prompted the group to look into his record, and they determined McGuire would be a better fit for the district. Chamberlain noted that he discussed McGuire’s actions on January 6, 2021 with him, and that he did not enter the Capitol that day.

“We certainly didn’t hold it against him,” he said.

“Yeah, I went there,” said McGuire, who traveled to both Trump’s “Stop the Stealing” rally and the grounds of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. “We felt like we were cheated.”

Virginia 5th Congressional District Primary
John McGuire, GOP candidate for Virginia’s 5th Congressional District, in Bampass, Va., on Saturday.Bill Clark / CQ-Roll Call, Inc. via Getty Images

McGuire’s openness to conspiracy theories shone through in other parts of the interview, including when he called the Covid-19 pandemic a “plan-demic” — a conspiracy theory that the pandemic that originated in China and spread around the world was a hoax. Being able to change voting rules around mailboxes and postal voting in the US There is no evidence of this.

McGuire would not promise to certify the results of the 2024 election if elected to Congress, saying “we’ll have to see what happens,” adding at another point: “I understand why people are distrustful of elections.”

The McCarthy factor

McCarthy allies flooded the Virginia airwaves ahead of Tuesday’s vote. Outside groups tied to the former speaker spent $6.9 million on ads in the race, according to ad-tracking firm AdImpact, while Good received support from outside groups tied to the Growth Action Club, the House Freedom Caucus and GOP Sen. Rand Paul. Kentucky.

McGuire said he and McCarthy have discussed the primary battle, though McGuire told NBC News he did not know the former speaker.

“About a month ago, I shook his hand,” McGuire said, at a Capitol Hill club in Washington. “He was good to me.” He added that during this competition, they contacted several times by phone.

“Advice, ‘Hey, am I doing the right thing?’ advice like,” McGuire described conversations with McCarthy. “And it says, ‘Keep charging.’ It’s more of a pep talk. But never any strategy or anything. I think I should have asked him that, but I didn’t.”

Good’s allies have framed the race as McCarthy and the Washington establishment trying to oust the party’s hard-right conservative wing, with some of Good’s Freedom Caucus colleagues joining him on the campaign trail Friday.

“It’s not just to crush Bob Goode as chairman. This is a move to destroy the Freedom Caucus,” Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., told the crowd of about 50 Virginians. Taking a swipe at the former speaker, Biggs said the race was “backed by a very bitter, angry person who wants to be relevant.”

While it will bring money and attention to the race, it’s unclear how much a vote to oust McCarthy will resonate with voters.

“The outcome will be determined by the candidates, their organization and Donald Trump,” said Zack Roday, a Virginia GOP strategist who is not involved in the race.

But McCarthy’s ouster mattered to at least a few voters who opposed the primary.

A woman at the Powhatan concert, who declined to be named, said McCarthy’s vote drove her decision to support McGuire.

“The timing was terrible,” he said, leaning against a lawn chair with a sign reading “John McGuire: Trump Endorsed.” “And it was all feeding off the Democrats: Oh, these Republicans can’t get their act together.”

Retiree Karen Piscarz of Goochland, who also attended Friday’s concert, said it “absolutely” influenced her decision to support Goode.

“Everyone’s like, ‘Why are you doing this?’ I liked how he stuck his neck out when he said that. And I think [House Speaker] Mike Johnson makes a big difference,” he said.

“It’s important for people who are paying attention,” Good supporter Dale Agnew said of the incumbent’s vote against McCarthy. “Not everyone is paying attention.”

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By 37ci3

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