The 5th District. Courtesy of Virginia Supreme Court.

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Almost a week after Josh Throneburg, an ordained minister and small-business owner from Charlottesville, claimed the nomination as the Democratic candidate in Virginia’s 5th congressional district to take on Rep. Bob Good, a Republican from Campbell County, in November, his primary opponent Andy Parker formally conceded after reviewing some of the disputed petitions that disqualified his campaign from making the ballot. 

“I was looking forward to a spirited primary and campaign against Good this fall, but to my great disappointment our campaign did not meet the technical requirements to be on the primary ballot,” Parker said in a statement released on Monday. “I want to thank the thousands of Virginians and supporters across America who stood with me.” 

The Henry County resident became a nationally known gun control advocate after his daughter Alison, a reporter with CBS affiliate WDBJ in Roanoke, and her photographer Adam Ward were shot to death live on camera in 2015 by a former station employee while conducting an interview at Smith Mountain Lake in Moneta.

Parker launched his campaign at the end of January and since his announcement he raised almost $200,000 and built a large social media presence with more than 60,000 followers on Twitter. Although some political observers saw him as a high profile candidate able to pose a serious challenge to Good, a staunch supporter of former President Donald Trump and a believer in the “Big Lie” promoting the conspiracy that Democrats had stolen the 2020 election, he failed to submit the 1,000 valid signatures required to be on the ballot for the party’s June 21 primary. 

Patricia Harper-Tunley, Democratic Party of Virginia Committee Chair for the 5th congressional district, told Cardinal News last week that Parker’s campaign had submitted a total of 1,093 petitions, of which 937 were certified under the rules set by the Virginia Department of Elections. 

The rejected petitions were signed but lacked the matching addresses, and others were signed by people not residing in the 5th district, Harper-Tunley said, adding that a committee of five individuals reviewed the signatures several times to get to 1,000. “Unfortunately that didn’t happen,” she said.

Parker initially refused to acknowledge the committee’s finding and vowed to challenge his disqualification. “As allotted by Virginia election law, we are taking a few days to perform a forensic audit of our petition signatures. When that is complete, we will explore our options,” he said in a text message on Wednesday. 

But the Democrat has since learned that his challenge to Throneburg’s nomination would be futile. “I congratulate Josh Throneburg, the Democratic nominee for Congress in Virginia’s 5th District,” Parker said in his statement Monday. “I will do what I can to help Josh defeat Bob Good, a Trumper extremist who does not reflect the values of the people of VA-5.”

Parker also said that he wants to remain politically active and plans to use his national profile to support other Virginia Democrats in their congressional campaigns. “I will continue to work on behalf of progressive causes and Democratic candidates in 2022 and beyond,” he said.

Markus Schmidt

Markus Schmidt is a reporter for Cardinal News. Reach him at markus@cardinalnews.org.