House Freedom Caucus chair locked in close Virginia primary count with Trump-backed challenger

A rancorous Republican congressional primary in Virginia that has been a proxy fight amid larger party divisions remained unresolved Wednesday morning.

House Freedom Caucus Chair Bob Good, who angered allies of former President Donald Trump and former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, was trailing state Sen. John McGuire by 342 votes as of Wednesday morning in Virginia’s 5th Congressional District – a margin small enough for a second-place finisher to call for a recount should it hold. Mail ballots can continue to arrive until Friday.

CNN has not made a projection in the race as yet.

Good wrote on social media Tuesday night that his team was still waiting on final election results.

“We implemented the best early voting operation that the 5th District has ever seen, and we are still waiting for the results of mail-in ballots and provisional ballots. We are doing what we can to ensure we have teams of observers and legal counsel to ensure all the votes are properly counted in the coming days,” the congressman said.

McGuire, who had Trump’s and McCarthy’s backing, however, was already looking forward to November.

“There are still a few votes left to count, but it’s clear that all paths end with a victory,” the state senator wrote on social media early Wednesday morning. “I look forward to working with Trump to beat Joe Biden in November & pass Trump’s agenda in Congress.”

Good faced a fierce effort to knock him out from a broad swath of the GOP in what became the most expensive House Republican primary of the cycle. As one of the chief architects of the move to oust McCarthy last fall, Good drew the ire of the former speaker’s allies, who spent millions seeking revenge. The congressman also lost Trump’s support after he endorsed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in the 2024 Republican presidential primary.

Key Trump impeachment figure will win Democratic primary for open Virginia seat

Eugene Vindman, a retired Army colonel and key figure in Trump’s first impeachment, will win the Democratic primary for Virginia’s 7th Congressional District, CNN projects.

Vindman is looking to succeed retiring Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger in what is expected to be a competitive race this fall with the House GOP’s narrow majority on the line. Derrick Anderson, a retired Army Green Beret, is projected to win the Republican nomination to take on Vindman in the 7th District, which includes the Washington, DC, exurbs.

Vindman and his twin brother, retired Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, are best known for their role in the impeachment after both raised concerns about a 2019 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. In the call, Trump allegedly asked for an investigation into Hunter Biden, the son of then-presidential candidate Joe Biden.

Alexander Vindman was a star witness during the 2020 impeachment hearing, and the twins – who both worked for the National Security Council – became heroes to Democratic activists opposed to the former president.

Eugene Vindman’s role in Trump’s impeachment likely made a difference in his campaign. While most of his primary opponents were current and former elected officials, the first-time candidate raised $5 million through May 29, federal records show. That haul was about four times as much as the combined total of the other six Democrats in the race.

Spanberger, the retiring congresswoman, is vacating her seat to run for governor next year. A former CIA officer, she won a third term in 2022 by 5 points.

Cole coasts in Oklahoma primary

Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole, the veteran Republican who chairs the House Appropriations Committee, will easily fend off a primary challenge in the state’s 4th Congressional District, CNN projects.

Cole is projected to win a four-way primary that included insurance broker Paul Bondar, who loaned his campaign more than $5 million through May 29 and blanketed the airwaves with ads.

Cole, a longtime GOP operative, had Trump’s endorsement. But Bondar cast himself as a more conservative alternative to the veteran congressman. He also sought to undercut ties between Trump and Cole, airing ads highlighting Cole’s donations to Trump’s 2024 GOP primary rivals before they ran for president.

First elected to Congress in 2002, Cole has maintained close ties to conservatives in the House – and voted against certifying certain 2020 election results and against impeaching Trump twice.

“He has almost always voted with me, including on both Impeachment Hoaxes,” Trump said in his early May endorsement of Cole.

Perhaps the most unusual aspect of Tuesday’s race was how new Bondar’s ties to Oklahoma are. After spending most of his career in Illinois, Bondar moved to Texas in 2020, living outside Dallas – where he voted in this March’s Republican primary. Then, in April, he launched his congressional campaign in Oklahoma. State voting records show Bondar’s early in-person ballot in his primary race is the first time he has voted in Oklahoma. Cole’s allies aired ads questioning Bondar’s residency.

The pro-Cole Americans 4 Security super PAC aired a 30-second spot that compared the primary to the Red River rivalry – a famously bitter one featuring the University of Oklahoma and the University of Texas. It highlighted Cole’s long-standing Sooner State ties, including that he graduated from the University of Oklahoma, and described his opponent as “Texan Paul Bonder, straight from Dallas trying to buy an Oklahoma congressional seat.”

“Don’t let a Longhorn try to take our Sooner seat,” the ad said, referring to the two schools’ mascots.

Bondar’s campaign responded with an ad claiming that the challenger owns a home in Oklahoma and has purchased a 500-acre property “to build his dream home” in Caddo. The ad featured the previous owner, Cheyenne Stanley, saying he’d sold the Bondars both properties, the first “about two years ago.”

This headline and story have been updated.

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