Trump’s bid to oust Good ends in nail-biter: 5 takeaways from Tuesday’s primaries

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A stunningly tight race in Virginia was among the highlights of Tuesday night’s elections, which also included contests in Georgia and Oklahoma.

Observers had been closely monitoring the GOP primary for Rep. Bob Good’s seat in Virginia’s 5th Congressional District. The contest had boiled over into one of the most tumultuous primaries of the cycle so far, as former President Trump and former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) sought to make Good the first incumbent to lose to an outside challenger. But as of Tuesday night, the race was still too close to call, with Good and his rival separated by hundreds of votes.

Meanwhile, Democrats grappled with their own fraught primary in Virginia, while Rep. Tom Cole (R) fended off several primary challengers for the GOP nod in Oklahoma.

Here are five takeaways from Tuesday night’s primaries:

Trump’s bid for revenge ends in a nail-biter

Good, the chair of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, was seen by many as a dead man walking heading into his primary against Virginia state Sen. John McGuire on Tuesday night, especially because Good had run afoul of Trump.

But as midnight approached, the candidates were neck and neck, with the race too close to call. If Good ultimately wins, it would be a major upset and an embarrassing defeat for Trump and McCarthy.

The incumbent angered Trump when he backed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for the Republican presidential nomination last year. While Good later endorsed Trump when DeSantis left the race, the former president argued the backing came too late.

As a result, Trump threw his support behind McGuire, who also won the backing of McCarthy’s Majority Committee PAC after Good voted to oust the former Speaker last year.

It’s unclear who will ultimately prevail, with some late mail ballots and a possible recount later this week adding to the uncertainty. The results of the race might not be known for days.

What is clear, however, is that Good’s primary has turned into one of the most fraught and memorable contests of the cycle so far.

An under-the-radar Senate matchup is set

Retired Navy Capt. Hung Cao sailed to victory in Virginia’s GOP Senate primary, easily defeating four other Republicans.

Cao will go on to face incumbent Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) in November, a race seen as an uphill battle for Republicans. The nonpartisan Cook Political Report rates the seat as “solid Democrat.”

Still, Republicans are heartened by signs of weakness for President Biden in the commonwealth, raising the possibility of a down-ballot upset as well.

Defeating Kaine will be no easy feat, however. In addition to serving in the Senate since 2013, Kaine also has Virginia governor, lieutenant governor and mayor of Richmond on his resume. On top of that, he served as chair of the Democratic National Committee and was Hillary Clinton’s running mate in the 2016 presidential election.

But Republicans are optimistic for Cao, a familiar face in Virginia politics. He challenged Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.) in Virginia’s 10th Congressional District in 2022, but he lost after the district became even more blue-leaning following redistricting.

Republicans point to recent polling coming out of Virginia showing a tighter-than-expected race between Biden and Trump. A Fox News survey released earlier this month showed the two tied at 48 percent. Additionally, The Hill’s Decision Desk HQ polling average has Trump narrowly leading Biden by 0.2 percent.

The polling should be alarming for Democrats, who have carried Virginia at the presidential level since former President Obama won the state in 2008. But Republicans say the polls show there is opportunity for Trump, and by extension Cao, in the state.

An ugly Dem primary comes to an end

Virginia state Sen. Suhas Subramanyam (D) beat out 11 other candidates in the Democratic primary to replace Wexton in Virginia’s 10th Congressional District.

Wexton backed Subramanyam, giving him momentum going into the crowded primary. The intraparty contest featured a number of well-known Virginia Democrats, including former House of Delegates Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn (D), state Sen. Jennifer Boysko (D) and former Virginia Secretary of Education Atif Qarni.

But on Tuesday, the race came down to Subramanyam and Del. Dan Helmer (D), with Subramanyam defeating Helmer 30.3 percent to 26.7 percent.

The race became particularly ugly in its final days after sexual harassment allegations emerged against Helmer. He has denied the allegations.

Subramanyam will go on to face Republican Mike Clancy in November. Democrats have an advantage in the district, which includes various Washington, D.C., suburbs and exurbs. Wexton won reelection in the district by over 6 points in 2022 and Biden carried the district by 19 points in 2020.

Another Jan. 6 candidate goes down

A candidate convicted of a misdemeanor related to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol went down in a Georgia runoff seen as the latest test of voters’ willingness to support a candidate linked to the insurrection.

Chuck Hand, who pleaded guilty to illegally demonstrating in the Capitol on Jan. 6, came in second place in last month’s initial primary alongside fellow Republican Wayne Johnson, a former Trump administration official.

But Johnson pulled off a comfortable double-digit win in Tuesday’s top-two contest and will go head-to-head with 16-term Democrat incumbent Rep. Sanford Bishop in November.

Hand is one of a handful of candidates linked to Jan. 6 who have tried for seats in Congress this cycle, more than three years after the Capitol riots — though they’ve lost out in the primary races so far this cycle.

Still, political experts say support for their bids — like the 35 percent Hand pulled in Tuesday — signal some in the GOP are shrugging off Jan. 6 convictions, especially as Trump lauds “J6 warriors” along the campaign trail and dismisses his own legal battles as politically motivated.

Both parties are grappling with divisions

Tuesday’s primaries laid bare the divisions that exist within both the Republican and Democratic parties.

In Virginia’s 5th District, conservatives and Republicans were split over their support of Good and McGuire. While Trump and McCarthy were united in their quest for revenge against Good, the incumbent congressman received support from other lawmakers, including Reps. Chip Roy (R-Texas) and Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) and even Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon.

Virginia Democrats also had their own contentious primary in the 10th District, which pitted Democratic figures in the state against each other. Former Gov. Ralph Northam (D) backed Filler-Corn in the race, while Wexton threw her support behind Subramanyam.

But Virginia was not the only state to see intraparty divisions. In Oklahoma, Rep. Tom Cole (R) easily defeated businessman Paul Bondar by double digits. Bondar ran to Cole’s right, campaigning on impeaching Biden, tougher immigration policy and cutting financial support for Ukraine. Bondar outraised Cole during the primary, thanks to a $5 million loan he gave his campaign. Cole has held the seat for more than 20 years.

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