Bob Not-So-Good in Virginia

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

In case you're not familiar with the super PAC Defending Main Street, they typically work to get conservative Republicans elected to Congress and defend incumbents facing tight races in swing districts. But now they're doing something a bit unusual, at least for them. They just dropped nearly half a million dollars into an advertising buy in Virginia supporting state Sen. John McGuire who is seeking a seat in Congress. The catch is that the money is going into the primary race. McGuire is seeking to oust GOP Congressman and Freedom Caucus Chairman Bob Good. Why? Good was one of the eight Republicans who voted with the Democrats to oust Kevin McCarthy as Speaker last fall. The PAC is denying that's the reason (or at least the only reason), but that's clearly what it looks like. (Associated Press)

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A political action committee that helps Republicans get elected to Congress is doing the unusual — spending more than $450,000 to defeat a GOP incumbent. That incumbent, conservative two-term Rep. Bob Good, R-Va., voted to remove former Rep. Kevin McCarthy as House speaker last fall.

It’s just the latest example of how money is flowing into races involving some of the eight Republican lawmakers who voted along with Democrats to oust McCarthy. About $3.3 million has been spent on ads in the Virginia race going into Friday, according to the media tracking firm AdImpact.

The ad buy underscores the internal divisions that have cracked open in the Republican Party since McCarthy’s ouster. The rancor has split the party on important House votes and spilled over into some of this year’s primary elections, too.

McGuire has been picking up a number of endorsements in addition to external advertising purchases. He's a retired Navy SEAL and checks most of the boxes conservatives typically look for. But taking Bob Good out won't be easy. He's established himself as a significant player in the conservative wing of the party, hence his leadership role in the Freedom Caucus. He's championed spending cuts even when they risked a potential shutdown of the House. 

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Of course, that's part of the problem that the Freedom Caucus has been having. More moderate Republicans in the razor-thin House majority have been arguing (correctly, in my opinion) that the priority right now should be to demonstrate that the GOP is capable of passing legislation and keeping the lights on in a functional way. Ousting the Speaker does the opposite of that, throwing the chamber into gridlock.

This move by Defending Main Street may serve as a shot across the bow at Marjorie Taylor Greene and other Freedom Caucus members. Her recent efforts to oust Speaker Mike Johnson fell far short, but her actions will not be quickly forgotten. You hate to see this sort of infighting, particularly in the heat of an election season where so much is on the line. To be clear, I've been very supportive of the Freedom Caucus. They typically pursue fiscal and social conservative goals that are important, even if they aren't always feasible. But at the same time, we need to remember the old adage about not allowing perfect to be the enemy of good. When you are only holding on to your majority by a seat or two, there's only so much that you can get done. Demanding that the Speaker perform miracles under those conditions and threatening to remove him if he doesn't simply isn't reasonable.

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Right now the GOP needs to have all hands on deck working to ensure that another potential red wave doesn't turn into a trickle. If they can beef up their majority to double digits in November, there will be room to shoot for more ambitious goals. But internecine fighting between now and then helps nobody but the Democrats and Joe Biden.

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David Strom 5:00 PM | May 23, 2024
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