Virginia certifies John McGuire as primary winner over Rep. Bob Good, who says he'll seek a recount

RICHMOND. Va. (AP) — The Virginia State Board of Elections on Tuesday certified the apparent narrow defeat of Republican Rep. Bob Good, one of America's most conservative congressmen, to a challenger endorsed by former President Donald Trump in the state's June 18 primaries.

The board's unanimous vote to certify the results does not end the matter, though. Good, who chairs the hard-right House Freedom Caucus in Congress, has said he will seek a recount now that the state has declared his opponent, state Sen. John McGuire, the winner of the primary in Virginia's 5th Congressional District.

The margin of victory certified by the electoral board was roughly 375 votes out of nearly 63,000 ballots cast, or 0.6 percentage points. That falls within the 1% margin allowing a recount to be requested. But because the margin is larger than 0.5 percentage points, Good will be required to pay for the cost of a recount himself.

Last week the AP declared the race too close to call, citing the likelihood of a recount.

Good has said he will pursue both a recount and legal challenges to block a McGuire victory. On social media he called for a “do-over” in the city of Lynchburg, the largest city in the district and a Good stronghold, citing alleged irregularities there.

Good and others have claimed that the city botched the vote count by accepting ballots from a drop box after Election Night.

The Lynchburg registrar has said due to a procedural error that seven ballots were retrieved from a drop box on the Friday after the election rather than on Election Night. The registrar said, though, that they believe the ballots were dropped off on Election Day and that no one witnessed any of the seven ballots being dropped off after Election Day.

Good’s campaign, in a social media post, also raised skepticism about three fire alarms that went off at polling places in three different district precincts on Election Day.

“AI estimates the probability being 0.0000000318% chance,” the campaign said of the likelihood.

Virginia elections commissioner Susan Beals said at Tuesday’s meeting that the fire alarms were triggered by maintenance activities at schools that were hosting the polling places. She praised the work of elections officers to secure ballots and said workers “ensured that no voters were turned away.”

She said that occasional issues always crop up in elections administration, “but these are not systemic problems that call into question the results of our elections.”

At Tuesday's meeting an election lawyer representing the McGuire campaign, Daniel Bruce, said there is no reason to doubt the results despite efforts to undermine confidence. Bruce noted the complaints about the Lynchburg drop box and said that “at most we're talking about seven votes.”

“We are confident in the integrity of the election and the legitimacy of the results,” Bruce said.

No one from the Good campaign spoke at Tuesday's meeting. Good's campaign manager, Diana Shores, said in an email that Good remains committed to seeking a recount.

Now that the results have been certified, Good's campaign has a 10-day window in which to file a recount petition with one of the circuit courts in the 5th District.

Shores said the campaign does not yet have information it can share on where it will file its petition.

Both Good and McGuire are among Republicans who have raised concerns about election integrity in the wake of Trump’s false claims of voter fraud in his 2020 reelection defeat. Good was among more than 100 GOP House members who voted in January 2021 to object to the Electoral College count from states that Trump disputed.

In an Election Eve telephone rally with Trump, McGuire urged supporters to deliver him a margin of victory “too big to rig.”

If Good loses, he would be the first House incumbent nationally to lose a primary challenge this year, with the exception of one race in which two incumbents faced off due to redistricting.

The Good-McGuire race highlighted the frictions in the party and was seen as a test of Trump's hold on the GOP electorate. Trump labeled Good a backstabber because Good endorsed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as the Republican candidate for president.

Either Republican would be favored in November over the Democratic nominee, Gloria Witt, in a district that tilts conservative.