Freedom Caucus chair loses Trump endorsement days after appearing at Manhattan hush money trial

Virginia lawmaker Bob Good’s support for Trump rival Ron DeSantis doomed his bid for ex-president’s endorsement

John Bowden
Washington DC
Wednesday 29 May 2024 01:34 BST
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Just days after Freedom Caucus chair Bob Good traveled to a Manhattan courtroom to show support for Donald Trump, the former president has endorsed his Republican primary opponent.

The ex-president’s insertion into the Republican primary race playing out in Virginia’s 5th congressional district is a sign of the heightened level of loyalty GOP members of Congress are now expected to show to their party’s presumed nominee for president, despite (or possibly due to) the onslaught of criminal charges Mr Trump now faces.

“Bob Good is BAD FOR VIRGINIA, AND BAD FOR THE USA,” Donald Trump wrote on Truth Social on Tuesday of the man who had personally journeyed miles to seek his favor just a few days ago.

“He turned his back on our incredible movement, and was constantly attacking and fighting me until recently, when he gave a warm and ‘loving’ Endorsement - But really, it was too late. The damage had been done!”

In the same post, Mr Trump wrote he was endorsing John McGuire, a Republican running against Mr Good in Virginia’s 18 June primary. Mr McGuire, somewhat awkwardly, had joined the former president in New York on the same day as Mr Good as the two seemingly auditioned for the endorsement.

Mr Trump faces more than 30 felony charges in New York, where he is accused of repeatedly falsifying business records to hide hush money payments made to a porn star, Stormy Daniels.

“John, who fought the Cartels on the Front Line, and then came home and fought the drug dealers in Virginia, will ALWAYS PUT AMERICA FIRST,” wrote Mr Trump of the candidate, whom he said had his “total” support.

The former president is not likely to schedule a last-minute trip to Virginia to boost Mr McGuire as he did in Ohio, where his loyalist supporter Bernie Moreno received a much-needed boost of support at a rally hosted by Mr Trump the weekend ahead of the primary.

But news of Mr Trump’s support may still trickle its way down to voters in the 5th district through right-wing media ahead of the primary, which is likely to be highly competitive.

Virginia as a whole is once again set to be a major battleground in 2024; the state chose a Republican governor during Mr Biden’s first year in office, but in the months and years since has taken a bluer direction, especially in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe vs Wade.

Mr Good is chair of the House Freedom Caucus, a group of hardline conservatives in the House of Representatives.

Under both Republican and Democratic administrations, the group has pushed for stricter cuts to government spending. They have continued lobbying for such cuts under the leadership of Speaker Mike Johnson in the GOP-controlled House through 2023-24, but have been stymied by Mr Johnson on some of their demands due to a lack of leverage.

Complicating their efforts to secure such cuts: The Senate remains in Democratic control and is unlikely to sign on to drastic cuts in exchange for crucial votes on measures to avert government shutdowns or debt limit hikes, the group members’ typical strategy.

Virginia Rep Bob Good speaks to reporters while flanked by other Republican members of Congress outside of a Manhattan courtroom in New York where Donald Trump is on trial for a hush money scheme
Virginia Rep Bob Good speaks to reporters while flanked by other Republican members of Congress outside of a Manhattan courtroom in New York where Donald Trump is on trial for a hush money scheme (Getty Images)

But despite his conservative record, Mr Good’s supposed crime was obvious. The Virginia congressman endorsed Ron DeSantis, governor of Florida, in his ill-fated bid for the White House last year even as Mr DeSantis failed to lock up members of his own state’s congressional delegation. The governor’s campaign would go on to quickly sputter out after barely finishing second in the Iowa caucuses.

Mr Good tried to make amends with the former president; in January, mere minutes after Mr DeSantis announced that he was dropping out of the 2024 race, the Virginia congressman switched his endorsement to Mr Trump. It was not enough.

“Thank you to President Donald J. Trump for endorsing my campaign for Congress!,” John McGuire said in a statement obtained by news affiliate KDVR. “I’ve been with Trump since he came down the escalator and when I’m in Congress, I’ll back his agenda and put America First!”

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