This is the first of two stories about the candidates. Read more about Josh Throneburg in part two.
On a Saturday in May near Farmville, when Rep. Bob Good, a Republican from Campbell County, seized his party’s nomination at the 5th Congressional District’s GOP convention for the second time, he took the stage inside a muggy Kirby Field House on the campus of Hampden-Sydney College.
Flanked by armed members of the Campbell County Militia, Good, 57, rolled up his sleeves and basked in the adoration of his almost 2,000 most ardent followers that had turned the space around him into a sea of red campaign signs. “Thank you for being in the fight for the future of our country, thank you for being ultra-MAGA,” Good shouted, with his voice cracking. He then continued on to rail against Democrats in Washington, even calling for the impeachment of President Joe Biden, which earned him thunderous applause from his audience.
After just two hours of voting, Good had defeated his Republican challenger Dan Moy, a 27-year Air Force veteran and the chairman of the Charlottesville GOP, receiving 1,488 of 1,759 votes.
The former Campbell County supervisor headed into the general election campaign facing Democrat Josh Throneburg, a Charlottesville resident and local pastor. With the nomination fight behind him, Good, who is running on a far-right platform closely aligned with former President Donald Trump’s policies, now has to focus on not just pleasing his base but also winning over undecided independent voters in his district.
Consequently, Good struck a much more measured tone in a recent phone interview with Cardinal News.
“I remind you that I won with 52% of the vote last time,” Good said of his victory in the November 2020 election in which he defeated Democrat Cameron Webb by 52.6% to 47.4%. “I don’t have a district like the 6th or the 9th, which are heavily Republican districts. It does lean our way, but this race was the number one takeover target by Democrats in 2020, and was considered a toss-up.”
After the Virginia Supreme Court in December approved new congressional district maps, the 5th District – which extends from northern Hanover, west to Albemarle County and south to Pittsylvania, Halifax and Mecklenburg counties on the North Carolina line – now includes 13,000 voters in Hanover County, as well as all of Louisa, Powhatan, Goochland, Nottoway and Amelia counties. It also encompasses the cities of Charlottesville, Lynchburg and Danville.
Unlike during his first election two years ago, this time Good has to defend his record as a lawmaker representing more than 735,000 constituents in a district that is 64.7% rural and 35.3% urban. “I ran as a constitutional biblical conservative, I was open about what I stood for and what I would do if I was in office, and I’ve done what I said I would do,” he said.
Many political analysts view Good as somewhat of a fringe candidate who appeals to the most conservative wing of the Republican party that widely continues to support Trump.
“No one would dispute that Bob Good is easily the most conservative member of Virginia’s congressional delegation,” said Larry Sabato, the director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia.
“The word ‘conservative’ understates his record since he has associated himself with the most extreme right group in the U.S. House,” Sabato said. “Good is considered part of the faction that includes Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert, Paul Gosar, Matt Gaetz, and Jim Jordan. They are ardently pro-Trump, are still repeating Trump’s lie that the 2020 election was stolen, and have been vaccine and social distancing skeptics.”
For example, Good undertook the “outrageous action of going into a school and urging the students to refuse to obey the school’s reasonable rules on COVID safety,” Sabato said, referring to Good’s visit at high school in Rappahannock County last October, where he encouraged students to ignore the mask requirement. “Good was put out in the football field with students in the bleachers because he refused to abide by the school’s reasonable safety rules designed to protect students and teachers.”
A little over a month after the presidential election, which Trump lost to Biden by 8 million votes, Good appeared at a pro-Trump rally at Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C., where he claimed that the election had been stolen by Democrats. The Washington Post reported that Good also told a mostly maskless crowd that the COVID-19 precautions were a “hoax,” and that the pandemic was “phony.”
And on Jan. 6, 2021, Good was among a group of Republicans who voted against certifying the election of President-elect Biden. He also voted against legislation awarding Congressional Gold Medals to members of the U.S. Capitol Police and the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department for protecting lawmakers during the storming of the Capitol.
“I have followed Congress since the 1960s, and I’ve personally known easily half of all the U.S. House members and Senators from Virginia,” Sabato said. “Except for the hard-core segregationists who never reformed, I’d rate Bob Good the most extreme House member from Virginia that I’ve seen in the six decades of my observation. And the way the Fifth is now constituted, that won’t stop him from being reelected.”
Del. Wendell Walker, R-Lynchburg, has known Good’s family since the 1970s, when they moved from New Jersey to the Lynchburg area, where Good attended Liberty Christian Academy and, later, Liberty University.
“I knew him when he was on the Board of Supervisors in Campbell County, and people were pleased with his service,” Walker said. “There is no question that Bob is a conservative guy. He has a strong faith and his conservatism is something that he champions quite a bit, and he has voted very similarly to the rest of our representatives,” Walker said, referring to Reps. Ben Cline, R-Botetourt County, and Morgan Griffith, R-Salem.
Good first won his party’s nomination in the spring of 2020 at a convention at Tree of Life Ministries in his home county, knocking off incumbent Denver Riggleman, who had been criticized by his party’s religious flank for officiating a same-sex wedding. Good won the nomination after 10 hours of voting with 58%.
In Congress, he serves on the Budget and the Education and Labor committees. He also is a member of the Freedom Caucus, which is generally considered the most conservative bloc within the House Republican Conference.
Good said in the interview last week that he was most proud of “the job that we have done with constituent services” during his first term. “We have worked to be all over the district consistently, we conduct mobile office hours in every city or county in the district every month where we are there for half a day, bringing the congressional office to the respective county or city so that constituents don’t have to call us, email us or come visit the office.”
Good said that his office has resolved over 3,000 cases of constituents’ disputes with federal agencies, helping to recover over $13 million that was owed to constituents, and has responded to more than 50,000 letters, emails, and phone calls.
Since January 2021, Good has delivered 95 floor speeches and sponsored 35 pieces of legislation, which, he said, makes him “the leader among Virginia Republicans in this Congress with the most bills sponsored,” and the third highest among nearly 50 freshman Republicans. He also said that he leads Virginia’s GOP delegation with the highest number of bills co-sponsored, 377.
The majority of Good’s proposals relate to highly partisan issues – an attempt at making good on campaign promises. His first measure was a House Resolution that would make migrants who have been convicted of a crime ineligible for asylum. The legislation never made it out of committee.
Among Good’s other proposals are the Protecting Religion from Government Act, which would prevent states and local jurisdictions from interfering with religious services held at houses of worship; legislation directing the Attorney General to report to Congress on how taxpayer-funded research has benefited China; a proposal that would require gun silencers be treated the same as firearms accessories (arguing that it would “help us save hearing”); the Close Biden’s Open Border Act, which would free up money for a border wall while putting a moratorium on “certain other funding,” and a measure that would direct the Secretary of State to designate MS-13 – an international criminal gang that originated in Los Angeles in the 1970s and 1980 – as a foreign terrorist organization.
Good also proposed what he called a Less is More Resolution that would prohibit lawmakers from introducing or considering legislation “that authorizes or makes appropriations of funds for a federal program not previously authorized or funded.”
Furthermore, Good has been on the forefront of trying to curtail abortion rights, sponsoring legislation that would prohibit chemical abortions performed without the presence of a healthcare provider.
In June he introduced a bill that would grant equal protection under the 14th Amendment for the right to life of each born and preborn human person, and later in July, he filed a measure that would designate the week beginning Nov. 7 as “National Pregnancy Center Week to recognize the vital role that community-supported pregnancy centers play in saving lives and serving women and men faced with difficult pregnancy decisions.”
However, none of Good’s 35 bills was signed into law or even made it out of the House. (During the same time, Griffith – who represents the 9th District – introduced 21 bills, one of which was enacted into law. Cline, the representative of the 6th District, sponsored eight bills, with none being enacted.)
Good blames the Democratic majority in both chambers of Congress and a Democratic president on a lack of legislative success.
“Sometimes you get criticized when you are in the minority if you are not getting legislation passed,” he said. “Well, if the president and the speaker and the Senate majority don’t agree with what you’re trying to do, it is difficult to get legislation passed. But at least it shows the constituents what I stand for, that I’m doing what I said I would do, and here are the policies I advance if we have the opportunity to be in majority, if I am trusted again.”
Good also dismissed questions about why he has not put forward legislation that would exclusively benefit people residing in his district as “a clever, common attack against a conservative like me.”
Instead, he cited his fight against what he called Biden’s “war on American energy and fossil fuels and his reversal of the policy of the previous administration that made us energy independent and gave us $2 gas prices.”
“Nothing impacts Americans’ daily lives more than what they are paying at the gas pump, which is federal policy, what they are paying at the grocery store or for what’s happening with car and housing prices. Those are federal policies,” Good said, adding that what he considers “the three biggest concerns for our country” have remained the same since he first ran two years ago – “the border and the immigration system [he has visited the U.S.-Mexican border five times in two years], our reckless spending and our national debt, and then our broken education system.”
Walker, the Republican delegate from Lynchburg who has known Good since his Liberty days, said that while the congressman has never asked for his political advice, working across the aisle to get legislation passed is an important part of the job.
“In 2020, when Democrats controlled the House of Delegates and Ralph Northam was governor, I was able to get about 60 percent of my bills passed in a bipartisan way,” Walker said. “I don’t compromise my convictions, but you have to learn to work together to move legislation forward for the benefit of our constituents. And that’s what people are going to look at, is he a partisan individual or does he look at people’s needs,” Walker said, adding that he has donated to Good’s campaign and continues to support him.
As a self-proclaimed constitutional biblical conservative, Good said that he applauded the U.S. Supreme Court’s courage to “follow the law in the face of threats, harassment and intimidation” and overturn the landmark ruling Roe v. Wade, which provided constitutional protections for abortions across the nation for nearly 50 years, leaving power to the states.
“The 1973 Roe v. Wade decision was a wrong decision where the court aggreviously overstepped its boundaries in making the law. It claimed to find in the Constitution that which did not exist; there is no constitutional basis to say you have a right to take a life in the womb,” Good said. “It was made up, it was a terrible decision that cost 63 million lives. When has ever a decision had that kind of impact in the history of the country? Never.”
A staunch believer in the idea that life begins at conception, Good said that he would still support legislation introduced by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, that would create a federal ban on abortions at 15 weeks in an attempt to force Republicans to adopt a partywide consensus on the issue.
“I will vote for any legislation that saves lives, that restricts abortions, so let’s say the 15-week bill that Senator Graham is advancing, if that comes to the House, I would vote for it, of course,” Good said. “I believe every life is precious, so of course I would vote for every bill that would restrict that, while I do believe that we ought to fight to save all innocent, precious life in the womb.”
While conceding that his own position on abortion is “bold” and “aggressive,” Good said that it is in fact Democrats who are extreme by refusing to back any restrictions. “Friends in the media loathe to point this out, but the truth is the Democrat Party has become the party of death, and has become the party of celebrating more abortions and believing in no restrictions, up to the moment of birth and maybe beyond.”
And Good views Throneburg, his challenger in the general election on Nov. 8, as just another Democrat with what he considers extreme views.
“Most of what I’ve seen from my opponent is focused on climate, he is taking what I would construe to be an extreme position, anti-American energy, anti-fossil fuels, climate-environmental extremism. He thinks that’s the most important issue and the greatest threat to the country and the planet, and I think that most voters disagree with that position.”
Good declined to comment further on Throneburg, and he also skirted a question on whether he still believes that the 2020 presidential election was fraudulent.
“There was significant concern about how things were handled in those states in particular where the laws of those states or the wishes of those legislators were not followed,” Good said of the results in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Nevada and Wisconsin, all of which Biden carried.
“Everyone who is concerned about the 2020 election or for that matter January 6th ought to be committed to restoring faith and trust in our election system and to ensuring the accuracy of our election and ought to support common sense security measures, such as proof of citizenship to vote, voter ID, not sending out unsolicited mail-in ballots, not permitting third-party ballot handling or ballot harvesting, not permitting drop boxes outside of polling places. All of those facilitate the potential for fraud,” Good said.
Virginia, where Biden soundly defeated Trump by 55% to 44%, and where Good edged Webb by a little over 5%, did “not have a lot of the issues that other states have had,” Good said. “We know that fraud happens in every election, especially one of the scale of a presidential election. The question is what we are doing to address it and what kind of consequences are we bringing to those found guilty of it, and what are we doing to try to limit it and make it as difficult as possible.”
Good did not say whether he would accept the results of the upcoming Nov. 8 election, should he lose. “We’re hopeful and cautiously optimistic that the voters will return me to Washington,” he said.
Tomorrow in Cardinal News: Democrat Josh Throneburg.