Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.) has endorsed Jarome Bell, a far-right candidate who has flaunted support for former president Donald Trump’s false claims of a stolen election, in his bid for the Republican nomination in Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District.
Good joins Trump allies such as Rep. Paul A. Gosar (R-Ariz.) and ex-national security adviser Michael Flynn — whom Trump pardoned after he was convicted of lying to the FBI — in endorsing Bell, who has built an “America First” platform centered on extreme rhetoric. Bell is chasing state Sen. Jen A. Kiggans (R-Virginia Beach), a geriatric nurse practitioner and former Navy helicopter pilot, for the right to challenge Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va.).
Kiggans has locked down support from the GOP establishment and leadership, including from House Republican Caucus Chair Elise Stefanik’s E-PAC and the Congressional Leadership Fund, House Republicans’ super-PAC.
Good, like Bell, has perpetuated Trump’s false claims of mass voter fraud and ran an “America First” campaign in 2020, presenting himself as a socially conservative immigration hard-liner.
Bell “will fight to protect the unborn, secure our Southern Border, support parental control of education, and defend the Second Amendment,” Good wrote in a statement. “He has pledged to join the House Freedom Caucus, and will be another courageous warrior fighting in Washington for our true conservative principles and to defeat the radical left.”
Bell, a former chief petty officer in the Navy, has been known for making inflammatory statements. On Twitter last September, he called for the execution of people convicted of voter fraud, writing: “Audit all 50 states. Arrest all involved. Try all involved. Convict all involved. Execute all involved. #MaricopaCountyFraud.” He has since been banned from the platform. Arizona Republican lawmaker Wendy Rogers, who led the charge on investigating the 2020 election — which ultimately confirmed Biden’s win — also endorsed Bell.
On Facebook, some of Bell’s posts have been removed or flagged by the company for spreading coronavirus misinformation, and Bell has decried what he called “vaccine apartheid.” Lately, his posts have been targeting the war in Ukraine. In another fringe post, after an intelligence official in the United Kingdom sent a tweet marking LGBTQ History Month and condemning the Putin regime’s abuses of LGBTQ people, Bell said the official “lets slip that the whole fake Russia war is about being gay.” That Facebook post is no longer available, although he said something similar in an interview with conservative radio host John Fredericks, in which he again charged that “the Biden regime ... stole our 2020 election.”
Good did not immediately respond to a request for additional comment about his decision to endorse Bell.
State and national Democrats are closely watching the Republican primary in the Virginia Beach-anchored 2nd District, a deep-purple swing district that, under the recently redrawn lines, Trump won in 2016 and that Biden eked out in 2020. If Bell were to upset Kiggans, it would make for an unusual race between Luria, a retired Navy commander who serves on the committee investigating Jan. 6, and a Navy veteran who is perpetuating the falsehoods that led to it.
Last month, however, Kiggans voted to support a $70 million audit of Virginia’s 2020 election results, a measure put forth by state Sen. Amanda F. Chase (R-Chesterfield) and one that Bell has been calling for in all 50 states. She was one of just three Republicans to join Chase in supporting the measure.
A spokeswoman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Monica Robinson, accused Kiggans of pushing a “radical agenda,” saying she was “quickly realizing she’s going to have to sell out to the most fringe wing of her party if she wants to make it through this Republican primary.”
The DCCC framed Good’s endorsement of Bell as “bad news for Jen Kiggans.” But a spokesman for Kiggans said she did not seek Good’s endorsement.
In a statement, Kiggans’s campaign manager Alex Rodriguez touted the “outpouring of support she has received from battle tested conservatives across the commonwealth,” noting backing from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Rep. Stefanik of New York, three former Republican Virginia governors and, on Monday, former 2nd District congresswoman Thelma Drake, among others.
“Our team continues to grow larger and stronger each day because Republicans know Senator Kiggans is the only candidate who can beat Elaine Luria and help Republicans regain control of the House Majority in 2022,” Rodriguez said.
Tommy Altman, an Air Force veteran and tattoo shop owner, and Andy Baan, a Navy veteran and former prosecutor, are also seeking the Republican nomination.