Bob Good emerged as the Republican Party’s nominee for the 5th Congressional District seat after a nominating convention on Saturday, unseating incumbent Congressman Denver Riggleman. Good received 58% of the weighted vote total, and 60% of the raw total of votes, after 2,537 delegates cast ballots at a drive-thru convention held at a church in Lynchburg. The convention was originally scheduled for April but was delayed because of the pandemic.
Good missed the deadline for filing paperwork to the Virginia Department of Elections to be on the ballot in the November general election, but the Republican Party of Virginia has filed an appeal to retroactively extend the deadline; a decision will be made by VDE board members on July 7. If the extension is not granted, Good may have to be a write-in candidate, even though he is the party’s chosen nominee.
The Democratic Party’s nominee for the congressional seat will be chosen in a June 23 open primary.
Greg Schumacher, who is the chairman of the Fauquier County Republican Committee, said Monday that the “unassembled convention” - essentially, a one-day period in which delegates can cast their ballots from their vehicles – went well. “[T]he committee that planned the drive-thru process on the campus of Tree of Life Ministries did a superb job. There were some delays during the day, but it ran smoothly overall, thanks to the work of great volunteers.”
Good was formerly a Campbell County supervisor and an athletics fundraising director at Liberty University. Both Good and Riggleman maintained they were more closely aligned with President Donald Trump’s policy positions than their opponent. Especially on the issues of marriage equality and immigration, Good’s candidacy for the nomination represented a challenge from the right wing of the party. Riggleman, on the other hand, had the endorsement of Trump, Donald Trump Jr. and Jerry Falwell Jr., Liberty University’s president.
In July 2019, Riggleman officiated a wedding between two men who had volunteered for his campaign, infuriating some within the Republican Party in Virginia and leading to an official censure from at least one county Republican committee.
Good, an outspoken evangelical, denied that Riggleman’s decision to officiate the wedding was the primary reason for his challenge for the nomination. “[Riggleman] is a disaster for American jobs, for American workers. There are many reasons,” he said in an April 17 interview with the Fauquier Times.
Although Good received the most votes from only 12 of the 23 county and city delegations, Good won by significant margins from local delegations with a large number of weighted votes, including the delegations from Pittsylvania, Bedford, Campbell and Franklin counties. Riggleman received the majority of votes from delegations from Albemarle County – his home county – and Fauquier County.
The leadup to the nominating convention was contentious, and the friction did not cease when the results of the convention vote were announced. At midnight on the night of the convention, Riggleman tweeted, “Voting irregularities and ballot stuffing has been reported in multiple [county delegations]. Voter fraud has been a hallmark of this nomination process and I will not stand for it.” He concluded, “We are evaluating all our options at this time,” though he did not specify what those options might be.
Riggleman and his supporters maintained that the convention nominating model gave voice only to party hardliners and did not represent Republicans in the district as a whole. The site of the convention itself, adjacent to Good’s home county, was also a point of contention; a May 18 appeal to the party’s district committee from the Riggleman campaign claimed the site “was clearly chosen to benefit a particular candidate.”
That same appeal claimed that three paid members of Good’s campaign, who simultaneously held committee voting rights, altered the outcome of a May 11 decision to confirm the Lynchburg convention site.
In his interview with the Fauquier Times, Good explained his support for the convention model of choosing a nominee, claiming it would “level the playing field so that the challenger would have more of an opportunity,” and that it “reduces the financial impact [of a primary campaign] and the tremendous advantage [Denver Riggleman] has as an incumbent.”
In a separate April 17 interview, Riggleman said that, in light of the pandemic, the committee should have explored the possibility of a primary, which he said would give more district Republicans a chance to weigh in, especially through absentee balloting by mail.
An April 12 document from several delegates known to be supporters of Good threatened the central committee with legal action if the convention model was scrapped. Good said at the time he had heard about the document after the fact, and that he and his campaign had no involvement in drafting the document. “That said, I absolutely understand why some delegates would say, ‘If you’re going to take away our rights as delegates, we’re going to sue to protect those rights,’” he added.
Reach Coy Ferrell at firstname.lastname@example.org