At a private campaign event in Nelson County, 5th Congressional District Republican candidate and self-described “biblical conservative” Bob Good stood before a crowd of about 40 supporters and delivered a fiery speech outlining his vision for the sprawling rural district.
“We are at war, and this is where we make our stand,” Good told the audience.
The event was billed as a private “Second Amendment rally” hosted at a hunting lodge in Roseland, Virginia. Speakers included gun rights activist and Virginia Citizens Defense League President Philip Van Cleave and E.W. Jackson, a former Republican candidate for Virginia lieutenant governor.
Good, a former Liberty University athletics official and former Campbell County supervisor with a background in banking and finance, is facing Democratic challenger Cameron Webb, a physician and public health director at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, in the general election.
The 5th Congressional District, which stretches from the North Carolina border to Fauquier County, is typically a safe Republican seat, but Webb has gained ground in recent polls and political analysts have recently rated the race a “toss-up.”
Speaking from the patio of the hunting lodge, Good told the audience that protecting gun rights was among his top priorities as a candidate. Good railed against the new gun laws passed by the Virginia General Assembly this year, including universal background checks, “red flag” laws and the reinstated one-handgun-a-month law.
“We will accept no compromise on this issue,” Good said.
Van Cleave backed Good as “very strong on the Second Amendment.” He spoke in favor of lax gun laws and even speculated about the possibility of another American civil war occurring as a result of new gun policies.
“They really want a civil war, I think we’re all pretty clear on that,” Van Cleave said. “I hate the thought of that, it’s horrifying. But how else can you figure? They want to get rid of the law-and-order part. And what's left?”
Asked later whether Good agreed with Van Cleave’s statements that there was a possibility of violent conflict between political parties, Good said the "radical left" is “calling for it openly.”
“They’re calling for revolution. So, the threat is clearly to our democracy, to our republic, to our freedoms is coming from the radical left. I don’t see any evidence of a threat from the conservative side,” Good said.
Good also touted his support for law enforcement and his numerous endorsements from commonwealth’s attorneys and sheriffs in the 5th Congressional District. Good added that he increased the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office budget while serving on the Campbell County board.
If elected, Good has said he wants to increase law enforcement spending, including for border patrol and immigration enforcement, and wants to make all crimes against law enforcement officers punishable as hate crimes.
Good has also thrown his weight behind the hard-line immigration policies of President Donald Trump and has called Trump “the best president of my lifetime.”
Good said he wants to finish building the border wall between the United States and Mexico, and has said he wants to end birthright citizenship – which the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled is guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment – and halt aid to countries who will not stop illegal immigration to the United States.
“I think we need to stop illegal immigration and have a merit-based immigration policy that puts Americans and American workers first,” Good said.
Good’s support for strict immigration policies was among the reasons he decided to challenge current Rep. Denver Riggleman in a Republican nominating convention. According to Good’s wife, Tracey Good, who spoke at a Fauquier Women for Good rally on Saturday, Riggleman’s vote against an annual appropriations bill that would have allocated additional funds for Trump’s border wall was a deciding moment for Good.
“Our sitting congressman had voted against the border wall that Trump wanted to put in,” she said, “affecting our children and our grandchildren.”
Intraparty tensions in the district flared in a bitterly contested Republican convention between Riggleman and Good in June. Good, who is a born-again evangelical Christian, criticized Riggleman for being “out of step” with the Republican Party on same-sex marriage, immigration and drug legalization. Good ultimately won the nomination with 58% of the vote.
Riggleman has declined to endorse either Good or Webb in the general election race.
Good is also a staunch supporter of anti-abortion policies and supports eliminating all federal funding of abortion-rights supporters and providers. He has said he will reject any attempts to pass any legislation affirming abortion rights.
“I think the number-one responsibility of government is to protect us and that includes those who cannot protect themselves, including precious life in the womb,” Good said.
Good spent as much time telling the audience about his opponent’s views as he did about his own, setting his agenda in sharp relief against the what he sees as the values of Webb and the Democratic Party.
Good said that Webb and the Democrats want to enact a “radical socialist agenda,” and told guests at the Nelson County rally that the Democratic Party wants to “disarm people” and “move us to a socialist-Marxist country.”
Webb responded in a statement by saying that he is “a strong supporter of the Second Amendment.”
“I don't believe any law-abiding gun owner should have to worry about their right to keep and bear arms. The best way to protect those rights is by keeping guns out of the hands of those who would harm themselves or others,” Webb said.
Webb has been endorsed by the gun control advocacy organization Giffords. In their endorsement, the organization wrote that Webb supports passing universal background checks, closing loopholes that allow convicted stalkers and domestic abusers to access guns, funding gun violence research and enacting “extreme risk” laws.
Good has also accused Webb of wanting to “defund the police.” In an advertisement released by the Congressional Leadership Fund, a Republican super PAC, Webb is quoted from an interview with a Charlottesville TV station about his position on the issue.
“So, those calls to defund the police, again, we need to use that language and we need to use it appropriately because those calls to defund the police, that’s not coming from nowhere,” Webb says in the ad. “That’s coming from a deeply rooted sense that hey, all of this extra spending on police is actually part of the problem on policing and over-policing.”
Webb said in a statement, however, that he does not support “defunding the police" and wants to ensure “police have the resources they need to do their jobs effectively.” Webb said he is also in favor of raising officer salaries and investing in training and mental health resources for officers.
“I do not support defunding the police. My father worked in law enforcement at the [U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency] for nearly 20 years, so I have a deep understanding of the importance of law enforcement and support for their critical work in keeping our communities safe,” Webb said.
Good also attacked Webb for his support for abortion rights and said that Webb wants “no restrictions on abortion at all up until the moment of birth,” and “even beyond.”
Webb responded by saying that Good was “creating a false framework for this discussion.” Webb added that, “As a Christian, I know that this is a deeply personal, emotional and nuanced issue.”
“No politician should dictate the decisions a person can make with their own body. I believe that those are decisions best made between a woman, her doctor and her faith,” Webb said.
Good has also pushed back against Webb’s appeals to bipartisanship in the 5th District. Good said in a recent interview that his opponent's effort to appeal to Republican and independent voters in the district is “talking without saying anything.”
“It’s a mirage,” Good said.
And while Good said there may be some room for agreement between Democrats and Republicans on issues like infrastructure and broadband expansion, compromise on issues like law enforcement spending and gun policy was a non-starter.
“When the Democrat Party has been taken over and has gone so hard to the radical socialist left, I don’t want to go halfway there with them,” Good said. “That’s our republic. You try to elect people who believe what you do, and if you’re in the minority, then you’re the loyal opposition.”
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