RJC-backed challenger wins Virginia primary against incumbent who opposed Israel aid

John McGuire defeats Bob Good, who heads far-right US House faction, by margin of 374 votes; latter says he’ll seek recount

Virginia state Sen. John McGuire joins supporters, June 18, 2024, in Lynchburg, Virginia. (AP Photo/Skip Rowland, File)
Virginia state Sen. John McGuire joins supporters, June 18, 2024, in Lynchburg, Virginia. (AP Photo/Skip Rowland, File)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — John McGuire, a challenger backed by the Republican Jewish Coalition, defeated US Representative Bob Good, who marshaled opposition to emergency Israel aid, in a central Virginia primary.

The victory for the RJC is its latest in a Republican primary. Involvement in primaries was once a rare occurrence for partisan Jewish groups on both sides, but that has changed as both parties grapple with internal realignments over support for Israel. Two Jewish Democratic groups backed George Latimer, the Westchester county executive who last week defeated incumbent New York Representative Jamaal Bowman, a prominent Israel critic.

The Virginia Department of Elections posted the victory on Tuesday, two weeks after the razor-close election. McGuire, a state senator, won by 374 votes out of a total of some 63,000. Good said on X that he will exercise his right to ask for a recount.

The RJC targeted Good because he leads a faction that is increasingly inclined to demand that funding offsets be written into bills providing aid to Israel. Good and others on the far right have voted this past year against emergency funding for Israel in its war against Hamas.

“Let there be no doubt that the Republican Jewish Coalition means it when we say: If you stand against the Jewish community, if you stand against America’s strategic ally Israel, the RJC will work to defeat you,” the RJC said Tuesday in a statement, noting that it had also opposed Good-backed candidates who lost in Nebraska, Texas and West Virginia in earlier primaries this year.

Also backing McGuire and opposing Good was the United Democracy Project, the political action committee affiliated with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC. In its statement, UDP, which spent $14 million to oust Bowman, suggested the two lawmakers, on opposite sides of the spectrum, were cut from the same cloth.

The chairman of the hard-right House Freedom Caucus, Rep. Bob Good, is seen at Trump Tower, May 16, 2024. (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey, File)

“UDP has helped defeat both Bob Good and Jamaal Bowman,” UDP said. “Democratic and Republican voters are demonstrating they want leaders in Congress who stand with our ally Israel and will help the Jewish state win this war. Being pro-Israel is good policy and good politics — on both sides of the aisle.”

McGuire was also backed by former president Donald Trump and former House speaker Kevin McCarthy.

Aside from Israel, little separates Good and McGuire on policy or politics. Both men have peddled Trump’s falsehoods about the 2020 election. McGuire joined pro-Trump rallies on January 6, 2021, when rioters mobbed the Capitol in a deadly insurgency. He says he did not enter the Capitol.

McGuire posted a photo of himself and Trump on X on Tuesday, thanking God, his wife, his campaign staff and Trump in that order. “Number one, I want to thank God,” he said. “We could not have done this without my wife Tracy, our incredible team, and of course President Trump!”

Good angered Trump, the former president and likely nominee, by backing a challenger early in the presidential primaries, Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida. Good switched his endorsement to Trump as soon as DeSantis dropped out, but it did not assuage Trump.

McCarthy, the former US House of Representatives speaker whom Good helped oust last year, fundraised for McGuire.

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