With the presidential race looking close in Virginia, Republicans fretted that former congressman Virgil Goode and other third-party candidates might play spoiler for Mitt Romney.
“Virgil Goode needs to leave Virginia,” Bobbe Scruggs, 83, grumbled as results started trickling in at the GOP’s election night party at the Omni Hotel in Richmond. “If I got him, I’d wring his neck.”
Romney, as we all know by now, lost Virginia. But should Goode, who ran as the Constitution Party nominee on an anti-immigration platform, really take the heat for that?
The Republican presidential candidate lost the commonwealth to President Obama by about 110,000 votes. Goode, who over 12 years in Congress morphed from conservative Democrat to Independent to Republican, picked up 13,594 votes.
There were other third-party hopefuls on the ballot in Virginia. But before the election, most of the Republican hand-wringing centered on Goode, still a popular figure in his old district, which includes Charlottesville and much of the southern part of the state.
As it turned out, Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson did far better than Goode, winning 30,437 votes. Jill Stein of the Green Party garnered 8,430 votes, many of those likely from disaffected Democrats.
Taken together, Goode, Johnson and Stein pulled in about 52,000 votes. Even if all of those ballots had gone to Romney, he would have needed another 58,000 to take the state.
So is Goode at least relieved that no one can blame him for Romney’s loss in Virginia? He’d waived off the spoiler concerns during the race and was focused on other matters when reached by phone Thursday.
On his agenda for the day: “Rest up and make sure all the signs are off the highways.”