ROANOKE — The 5th Congressional District race between Republican Bob Good and Democrat Cameron Webb is expected to attract political excitement as the GOP fights to keep the seat red.
The two are seeking to succeed Rep. Denver Riggleman, R-Nelson, after Good defeated him in a convention earlier this year.
Webb’s trouncing of three Democrats in a primary bolstered enthusiasm among Democrats in the district. But it’ll still be tough for Webb, an internal medicine doctor and director of health policy and equity at the University of Virginia.
President Donald Trump won the district four years ago with 55% of the vote. A Democrat outspent Riggleman two years later and lost. That same year, the district’s voters favored Corey Stewart, a Republican firebrand who courted white nationalists, over Democratic U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine.
The 5th Congressional District is Virginia’s largest, stretching from Fauquier County to the North Carolina border and including much of the Charlottesville area. The last time a Democrat won the seat was in 2008, when Tom Perriello upset incumbent Republican Virgil Goode.
Webb is running on a platform of a public health insurance option, addressing racial and economic inequities, criminal justice reform and expanding educational opportunities, including tuition-free community and public college for low-income people.
“What makes me a good doctor is that I get paged that a patient is sick, and I don’t panic or assign blame,” Webb said. “I look at the problem, look at the data and find a solution. That’s going to suit me well for this moment we’re in with a series of crises and dealing with issues like health care, justice and equity.”
Good, a former Campbell County supervisor and one-time Liberty University employee, emerged last year to challenge Riggleman. His campaign focused on painting Riggleman as insufficiently conservative.
Good, who identifies as a “bright red biblical and constitutional conservative,” talked a lot about going to Washington to “defend Judeo-Christian values.” He emphasized his opposition to abortion in all circumstances and support of traditional marriage, contrasting himself with Riggleman, who supports abortion exceptions and officiated a same-sex marriage.
Recently, Good attended an event for pastors, with an invitation for it saying “religious liberties are under assault.” Good’s attendance attracted national media attention. Republican voters who have been uneasy about Good’s emphasis on social issues worry he’ll lose moderate Republican voters and allow Webb to attract independent voters.
But during a recent interview, when asked if he’ll spend time talking about social issues on the campaign trail, he responded by saying he’s focusing on the economy and backing the police. He said he stands behind the president and his policies. He supports expanding school choice.
“There are many things on the ballot that make it a clear choice between what the Democratic Party is offering America and what I’m offering,” Good said. “I think most Americans are going to choose Trump’s vision for America.”
Webb said there are some people who have Trump and Webb signs planted in their yards. He tells people how he worked in the White House during the Obama and Trump administrations.
“People are sick of the bitter partisanship, and they want someone who puts people over politics,” Webb said. “I’m willing to go everywhere in this district and hear all perspectives, give them a fair shake, and let them know what I think and feel, too.”
Good has spent the past few weeks holding private fundraisers with Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Salem; Rep. Louie Gohmert, a tea party Texan; and Dave Brat, one of the most conservative House Republicans before Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Henrico, defeated him in 2018. Good also has set up several rallies in support of law enforcement.
“Just look at what’s happening in cities, and the Democratic Party has refused to address the violence, the rioting, the destruction of property, the attacks on our police officers in our cities,” Good said.
The election is Nov. 3. For information on how to vote, visit elections. virginia.gov.