Virgil Goode was elected to the state Senate at age 27 in 1973, winning 54 percent of the vote in a six-way race. He easily won re-election in subsequent races and gained enough seniority to become an influential member of the Senate Finance Committee.
In 1994, he ran in the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate against the scandal-ridden incumbent, Charles S. Robb. Robb won 58 percent of the vote in the four-candidate field and went on to win re-election. But Goode beat Robb with nearly 70 percent of the vote in the 5th District, the only congressional district that Goode won. Goode easily defeated Edwin Powell at a convention to win the Democratic nomination for the House seat in 1996.
He was elected to the U.S. House in 1996, getting 60 percent of the vote against Republican George Landrith, and was re-elected in 1998 without opposition. In 2000, he won with 67 percent of the vote.
Goode in 2002 defeated Meredith Richards, a Democratic member of the Charlottesville City Council. Goode, as a Republican, won with 64 percent of the vote.