The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Virginia’s Republican gothic

A video still of Virginia Rep.-elect Bob Good, who told a crowd of maskless Trump supporters on Dec. 12 in D.C. that the coronavirus pandemic is “phony.” (C-SPAN) (C-SPAN)

It’s been a rough few weeks for Virginia Republicans. The defeat and disillusion following the Nov. 3 election, in which they failed to gain ground on Virginia Democrats, would normally be enough bad news for anyone.

But some Republicans have taken it upon themselves to turn a dismal narrative into a horror story.

Some, such as Del. Nick Freitas (Culpeper), have had small roles to play in the new story line. Freitas, if we recall, lost the 7th Congressional District race to incumbent Abigail Spanberger. It was a close contest, hard-fought from beginning to end. But, like President Trump and a host of other election-night losers, Freitas has refused to concede.

Granted, concessions aren’t required. But they show maturity and a base acceptance of reality. Freitas has shown neither, insisting that he won’t concede until he’s finished an “investigation” and exhausted “legal options and it has been determined that only legal votes were counted,” adding that he then would be “more than happy to accept the outcome either way.”

Isn’t that nice.

Among the Republicans who did win on Nov. 3, there has been a contest to see who gets to play the (seemingly) coveted role of Trump cheerleader-in-chief.

So far, it’s a neck-and-neck race between Reps. Ben Cline, H. Morgan Griffith and Rob Wittman.

None has publicly acknowledged Joe Biden’s victory over Trump. That’s good for scoring points inside the Oval Office, and it keeps them off Trump’s naughty list. For now.

All three also dutifully joined the House GOP amicus brief supporting the barely half-baked Texas lawsuit that sought to disenfranchise millions of voters in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Cline said he did so because he will “vigorously defend the right of every American, including the President, to have their day in court.” Griffin said it was a mistake his name was left off the first batch of supporters and he found the legal argument for tossing millions of votes over the side “persuasive.”

Wittman bested both when he said the Texas suit and the House brief backing it were intended to instill confidence in the election system and support for the rule of law. So much for federalism, limited government and the will of the people, eh, Mr. Wittman?

It’s worth mentioning that 5th District Rep.-elect Bob Good said he would have supported the lawsuit. He’s said a lot of other jaw-dropping stuff in recent days, including his assertion the coronavirus pandemic in “phony.”

Putting aside Good’s ignorance about what “pandemic” means, and his long-standing disdain for masks and other measures to curtail the spread of the coronavirus, Virginians can take cold comfort from the fact that Good hasn’t gone completely over the edge as have other newly minted GOP House members.

Even if Good wanted to blaze a reality-challenged path through the commonwealth’s political landscape, he would quickly find that state Sen. Amanda Chase (Chesterfield) has already claimed all of it for herself — and aggressively so.

Chase’s most recent foray included charges that fraud propelled Biden’s election win (an evidence-free stance she shares with Good) and the president should “declare martial law” to get to the bottom it.

Chase’s rival for the GOP gubernatorial nomination, former House speaker Kirk Cox (Colonial Heights), said Chase’s “suggestion that martial law be imposed is absurd and dangerous.” He went even further, acknowledging Biden’s victory.

That Cox needed to say either of these things is incredible and aligns him with Rep. Denver Riggleman, whose been a thorn in the realty-challenged GOP’s side since Good defeated him in a drive-up convention this summer (and who may enter the gubernatorial sweepstakes himself).

It will not be the last time either man has to make such a statement. That is the shame — and the horror — of the Virginia GOP.

Read more:

Alex Pisciarino and Rek LeCounte: This congressman is being attacked for marrying us. That isn’t the Virginia we know.

Norman Leahy: Virginia’s 5th Congressional District race is a toss-up

Jennifer Rubin: How moderates like Rep. Abigail Spanberger survive in tribalistic times

Jennifer Rubin: Rep. Abigail Spanberger: ‘We are ceding ground to China’