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Rep. Bob Good gets nod for 2nd term in Va. GOP convention; Cao also wins

First-time candidate Hung Cao emerges as victor in crowded 10th District contest

Republican Rep. Bob Good overcame a primary challenge in Virginia’s 5th Congressional District. (Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post)

HAMPDEN SYDNEY, Va. — Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.) survived a primary challenge at a GOP nominating convention in Virginia’s 5th Congressional District on Saturday, coasting to victory with an overwhelming margin of the vote, while Hung Cao came out on top in a crowded Republican primary in Virginia’s 10th.

Good, one of the most conservative members of the House, faced a challenge from retired Air Force colonel Dan Moy, the chairman of the Charlottesville GOP Committee, who had accused Good of being “missing in action” on issues of national defense and the local economy.

But Moy’s argument swayed few, as Good enjoyed broad support from fellow Trump loyalists and religious conservatives in the reliably red district.

Accepting the nomination, Good thanked the delegates for coming out in the heat to vote for him, thanked veterans for their service, and attacked the news media at length. He then amped up the crowd with promises to defeat the Democrats in November and take control of Congress.

“They want to do as much harm as they can as long as they have the power. … You’re going to have a massive shift manifest itself in November,” Good said.

Cao, a 25-year Navy veteran and first-time candidate, defeated the best-funded candidate with an eight-year record of public service, Prince William County Supervisor Jeanine Lawson (R-Brentsville).

Lawson raised over $920,000 — more than twice what Cao pulled in — and had backing from Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), the House Republican Conference chairwoman.

But Cao, a Vietnamese refugee who said earlier this week that he was focusing on voter outreach in minority communities, came away with about 53 percent of the vote to Lawson’s roughly 34.

Good’s and Cao’s victories bring two more November matchups into view in Virginia in an election year when Republicans hope to gain a majority in Congress. Republicans in the 8th District selected Karina Lipsman as their nominee at a GOP convention as well, though Republicans do not typically fare well in the deep-blue Northern Virginia district.

Good — who received 1,488 votes to Moy’s 271, with votes from more Republican districts weighted heaviest — will take on Democratic nominee Josh Throneburg, a pastor and small-business owner in Charlottesville, in the November election.

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Inside a humid gymnasium at Hampden-Sydney College near Farmville, the crowd erupted when Good appeared onstage before the vote.

“Thank you for being in the fight for the future of our country,” Good said as he took the microphone. “Thank you for being ultra-MAGA!”

In his 10-minute speech, Good highlighted his trips to the southern border, being at school board meetings to stand with parents against “indoctrination” of children through critical race theory, and boasted that he was ranked 431 out of 435 in a recent bipartisan indexing score.

“I am not in Washington to work with the Democrats. I am there to defeat the Democrats!” Good said, eliciting broad support from the crowd.

Good named three priorities and promised to continue fighting on them: border security, opposing Democrats’ spending and, through his work on the House Committee on Education and Labor, “fighting against radical transgender ideology, the sexualization of our kids,” and pandemic-era mandates, saying he has been on the front lines, “speaking against this government’s response to the China virus situation.”

Moy took the stage ahead of the vote to some cheers and some boos, competing at times over Good’s supporters for the floor as they intermittently yelled, “We want Bob!”

During his speech, Moy emphasized his service in the Air Force, noting how he commanded combat troops on the ground in Afghanistan while fighting the Taliban. His bid for Congress was a continuation of his oath, he said, and he pledged that if elected, he would seek to put small-business owners and farmers first to help boost the local economy.

He highlighted Good’s vote against the National Defense Authorization Act that funds the military.

“His grandstanding is producing no real results,” Moy said. “Virginians, we must do better. I’m challenging my opponent because he’s been missing in action when it comes to renewing our local economy, standing up for national defense, our military and our veterans. Most importantly, he’s been missing in action on bread-and-butter issues that matter to voters in the 5th District.”

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While Moy says he would have voted to certify the presidential election results on Jan. 6, Good objected to them and has perpetuated former president Donald Trump’s false claims of election fraud. During the convention, the delegates approved by a roaring voice vote a resolution asking the Virginia General Assembly to launch a forensic audit of the 2020 presidential election.

The 5th District remains reliably red after redistricting, but took in some new counties that were previously in the 7th District. Some of those voters new to Good’s constituency said they were turned off by Moy’s attacks on Good’s record.

“Moy didn’t say what he stood for — he only put down Bob Good,” said Debbie Grys, a delegate from Louisa. She said she liked that Good was “a real conservative — a Christian and who defends gun rights.”

Kevin French, a voter from Goochland — also new 5th District territory — said Good struck him as an “old-time conservative” who “voted against unneeded gigantic spending for things we can’t afford and which many of us do not want.”

Will Pace, chairman of the 5th Congressional District GOP Committee, said about 1,300 delegates attended Saturday.

In the 10th, Cao’s victory appears likely to attract the attention of national Republicans angling to oust Wexton — though it is expected to be an uphill climb.

The district has been trending blue for years — Wexton flipped it with a double-digit margin in 2018 and Joe Biden won it by 18 points in 2020. But after Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) made inroads in the district last year — losing the 10th by less than five percentage points — Republicans have seen that progress as a sign that victory could be within reach under the right conditions this year. Redistricting kept the district blue but narrowed Youngkin’s margin of defeat to under two percentage points, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.

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The Loudoun County-anchored district — home to some of the state’s most raucous school board meetings — was fertile ground for Youngkin’s crusades against critical race theory, pandemic-related school closures and his pledges for “parental rights” in education.

Cao centered many of those issues in his campaign as well. The retired Navy captain, who had served in Afghanistan until as recently as early last year, also emphasized his perspective as a veteran, including his experience balancing the Navy’s budget which he said would best position him to rein in spending.

As it became clear that Cao would win, eliminated candidates began throwing their support behind him as their party’s nominee.

“As an American war hero and first-generation American, he will have the ability to relate to our diverse district full of minorities and veterans,” said candidate Caleb Max, the grandson of former 10th District congressman Frank Wolf (R). “As a Christian, he has the character to bring together people of many faiths. As a home-school father of five children, he can speak to parents’ rights in their children’s education.”

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At Mercer Middle School near Stone Ridge, on the far southern end of Loudoun County, the sweltering weather didn’t keep a steady stream of voters from walking out to the polls.

Tim Vermilion, a 49-year-old engineer, said he would be ranking a former colleague, Air Force veteran Dave Beckwith, as his first choice.

But after him? Lawson and Cao seemed like the best options, he said.

“Part of it for me is who can pull the most votes in November,” he said. “The center is important.”

Vermilion has been feeling “Trump fatigue,” he said. A candidate like Cao — a Vietnamese refugee and former Navy captain — might have more appeal to independent voters, he added, and “comes at immigration issues with a different perspective.”

“It’s important for candidates to downplay the connection with Trump,” Vermilion said, “because that’s definitely not going to play to the center.”

Wearing a red blouse and matching sandals, Lawson seemed to try to strike up a personal connection with anyone in line for the polls at a middle school near South Riding.

Peg Ashton, an executive recruiter in her early 50s, spoke to Lawson about pancreatic cancer — both Lawson’s father and Ashton’s former pastor had died of the disease — before verbally committing her support for Lawson.

“We know you can pull this off,” Ashton told Lawson, “so we’re here to support you.”

Flanked by her husband, Chip, who works as a government contractor, the Dulles resident said it was Lawson’s experience in elected office — as well as her “strong support of Christian freedom” — that put her at the top of their rankings.

“She’s run before. She has more support and more visibility,” Ashton said. “She’s going into it with a bigger existing base.”

But because they live in Loudoun County, there were other factors to consider, too — such as Youngkin’s schools-fueled victory.

“The tide is turning in Virginia and around the country,” she said. “We really hope whoever comes out of this will win and make a statement.”