Former U.S. Rep. Tom Garrett took a big step in his comeback bid on Saturday, outlasting two rivals in a convention to win the GOP nomination in a Southside House of Delegates district that extends from Goochland to Appomattox.
Garrett, who announced nearly five years ago that he would not seek reelection to his 5th District seat in Congress in order to combat his alcoholism, prevailed on the second ballot at Cumberland High School to win the Republican nomination in House District 56.
His nomination is likely tantamount to victory in November. No Democratic or independent candidate has emerged in the strongly conservative district.
Kevin Bailey, an attorney, led the GOP tally in the first round of balloting that eliminated Jennie Wood, a small-business owner with a background in marketing. But Wood, a former legislative aide to state Sen. Mark Peake, R-Lynchburg, endorsed Garrett after the first ballot.
All 100 House seats and all 40 Senate seats are up for election in November. Republicans now control the House, and Democrats lead the Senate. The outcome of the fight for control of the chambers will be key in how Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s agenda fares in the last two years of his term, which ends in January 2026.
Garrett, a military veteran and solar company co-founder, was an assistant state attorney general and Louisa County’s top prosecutor before he represented Virginia’s 22nd Senate District from 2011 to 2017.
Garrett represented the 5th District in Congress from 2017 to 2019. In a 2018 video he recorded in Virginia’s Capitol Square, he announced he would forgo a run for reelection.
“My commitment to be the best husband, father and friend means addressing the only truth I have been heretofore unwilling to tell,” Garrett said then.
At the time, he had also been subject to an Office of Congressional Ethics investigation. It later found he had misused staff for personal tasks outside of their official duties.
In this year’s House contest, Garrett said in response to a candidate questionnaire from the Richmond Times-Dispatch that he wants to focus on rural economic development and push for wholesale education reform and school choice. He said he is “100% pro-life” and supports tax cuts.