U.S. Rep. Bob Good. Courtesy of the Good campaign.

Rep. Bob Good, the firebrand Republican from Campbell County, fended off a challenge from Democrat Josh Throneburg, an ordained minister and small business owner from Charlottesville, in Virginia’s 5th Congressional District. By 9:35 p.m., Good had defeated his opponent by 61% to 39% of the vote, with 295 of 378 precincts reporting – a result that didn’t change much throughout the evening.

His victory secured Good a second term in Congress, where the self-proclaimed biblical conservative over the last two years has aligned himself with the far-right wing of the GOP’s delegation, such as Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert, Paul Gosar, Matt Gaetz, and Jim Jordan, pushing conspiracies over the 2020 presidential election and the COVID-19 pandemic, while stopping short of sponsoring successful legislation. 

“I would like to thank the voters of the 5th district for giving me the honor of continuing to represent you in Congress. It has been one of the greatest privileges of my life to serve as your representative these past two years, and I am truly grateful for your continued support,” Good, 57, said in a statement released Tuesday. “I am committed to continuing to fight for you in Washington, and I pledge to work relentlessly to secure the border, balance the budget, put parents and children first in education, restore our constitutional freedoms, and hold the Biden administration accountable.”

Throneburg, 45, conceded shortly after 9 p.m. “I’ve looked at the numbers and it appears that tonight, we’ve come up short. It has been a long, hard-fought race, but I have just called Bob Good and congratulated him on his election to a second term in office,” he said in a statement. 

Despite his loss, Throneburg said that he would remain dedicated to serving the people of Virginia. “The challenges that we face, as a district, a nation and a planet, remain stark, and my commitment to addressing those challenges remains firm,” he said. “I will not forget the many residents of the fifth district I met during this race: the good, hardworking people who simply want a better, fairer, more just world for their families and their communities. I will pray for Bob Good, and pray that he can rise to the challenge of being a representative who helps those people build the world they seek.”

Miles Coleman, a political scientist at the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, said that Good won simply because he had an R behind his name. “Any Republican will do well in Southside Virginia these days, that’s what probably carried Good this year. Southside is not just a name, it’s a state of mind, and this district is just tough for any Democrat, it didn’t change too much during redistricting,” Coleman said. 

After the Virginia Supreme Court approved new congressional district maps in December of last year, the 5th District – which is Virginia’s largest, extending 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. In total, the newly drawn district, which is 64.7% rural and 35.3% urban, encompasses 735,000 constituents.

The district was continuously represented in Congress by fairly conservative Democrats until Rep. Virgil Goode, a Democrat, switched parties, first to independent in 2000 and then to Republican in 2002. Goode was successfully challenged by Tom Perriello in 2008, who was the last Democrat to represent the district until his ouster by Republican Robert Hurt two years later.

Unlike its reliably Republican neighbors to the west – the 6th and the 9th districts – the newly reconfigured 5th District is the third most competitive in Virginia, according to a memo that the two redistricting special masters filed with the state Supreme Court last year. Rated as 53% Republican, 45.2% Democratic – a 7.8% Republican tilt – it was rated the most vulnerable GOP-controlled district in the commonwealth at the time. 

Yet the only locality where Throneburg won is the traditionally more libercal city of Charlottesville, which the Democrat carried by 84% of the vote. “You almost have to feel bad for the people in Charlottesville who are stuck with a congressman that they’d never vote for,” Coleman said. 

Good’s ascent to national politics began in the spring of 2020, when he secured his party’s nomination 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%. He won the general election in November that year, defeating Democrat Cameron Webb by 52.6% to 47.4%. 

Even before taking his oath of office, Good made news in December 2020 when he appeared at a pro-Trump rally at Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C., where he claimed that the election – which then-President Donald Trump lost to Democrat Joe Biden by almost 8 million votes – had been stolen by Democrats. The Washington Post reported at the time that Good also told a mostly maskless crowd that the COVID-19 precautions were a “hoax,” and that the pandemic was “phony.”

Just hours after assuming office 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.

As a freshman in Congress, Good was appointed to 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. 

During his first term, Good delivered 95 floor speeches and sponsored 35 pieces of legislation, which, he said in a recent interview with Cardinal News, 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 his bills focused on partisan issues, from proposals relating to border security to religious freedom, gun rights and legislation attempting to curb immigration and weaken abortion rights. None of his proposals were ever signed into law, which Good blamed on the Democratic majority in both chambers of Congress and a Democratic president.

“Sometimes you get criticized when you are in the minority if you are not getting legislation passed,” he said in the interview. “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.”

Good kicked off his reelection campaign in early 2022. At his district’s GOP convention at Hampden-Sydney College near Farmville in May, he seized his party’s nomination for the second time, defeating 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. 

Good spent much of the summer traveling the district pushing the same narrative that got him elected in the first place. “Bob Good campaigned a lot on national issues, and Throneburg sort of took a local approach,” said Coleman, the political scientist. “But those national red meat issues that Bob Good serves up play very well in Southside, which gave him enough of a boost to be able to cancel out Charlottesville.”

During his campaign, Good mostly catered to the right-wing echo-chamber and avoided confronting his Democratic challenger until a few weeks ago, when he agreed to face Throneburg at a candidates forum hosted by the Wilson Center for Leadership on the campus of the same college where his party nominated him a second time five months earlier. 

At the event, he painted a dark picture of Joe Biden’s America – a country in disarray, plagued by economic distress, crime, an invasion of migrants and shattered individual liberties.

“Quite frankly, the Democrat Party has declared war on America, on the Constitution and on the Founders, on faith, and on family, and the things that made America the greatest country in the history of the world,” he told the audience.

5th Congerssional District. Courtesy of Virginia Supreme Court.

Markus Schmidt is a reporter for Cardinal News. Reach him at markus@cardinalnews.org or 804-822-1594.