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'Hardheaded' Bob Good named chair of House Freedom Caucus

Central Virginia’s Bob Good has been selected to lead one of the most influential groups in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Good, a Republican representing Virginia’s 5th Congressional District, was elected chairman of the House Freedom Caucus on Monday night in a closed-door meeting.

The far-right, hard-line group has earned a reputation as among the more confrontational contingencies in Congress, and eight of its members were instrumental in the ouster of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, himself a Republican.

Good was among them, and with a razor-thin Republican majority in the House, Good will be leading a caucus that has significant sway over who is in charge, how Congress is run and what bills are passed.

“Rep. Good has been a strong and vocal member of the Freedom Caucus since taking office in 2021, serving on the group’s Board of Directors as Whip and championing the positions and messages of the caucus,” reads a statement from Good’s office issued after the Monday vote.

Good will be taking the role from Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania.

“It is my privilege and honor to serve as the next House Freedom Caucus chairman,” Good said in his statement. “I thank Rep. Perry for his outstanding leadership of the caucus, and I look forward to building on the work he has done and continuing the fight to reduce government spending, secure our borders, and defend our constitutional freedoms.”

Now that Good is heading an influential caucus, could that mean he’ll be delivering results for his district, which stretches all the way from Charlottesville to the North Carolina border.

“I wouldn’t go that far,” Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics told The Daily Progress.

Republicans currently hold 221 seats in the House. With 218 votes required for a majority, the party can only afford to lose three votes. That means the party will need to stick together to get its priorities passed, and so far this session, that has been a challenge.

The Freedom Caucus, which consists of about three dozen members, is not known for being willing to negotiate.

“They weren’t very flexible to begin with,” Sabato said. “There’s almost no margin for error, and that means even within the Republican conference there has to be some give and take.”

Even if the conference is able to pass something through the House, whatever the Freedom Caucus is willing to support will likely be viewed as too extreme by the Democrat-controlled Senate.

And getting the support of moderate House Republicans will be challenging.

“Bob Good is seen as being way out there. He really is. I’ve talked to enough members to know,” Sabato said. “Honestly, I can’t imagine that any Democrat or Republican with the label of moderate conservative would be inclined to go along with Bob Good on just about anything, because it doesn’t sell.”

That perception is partly what Sabato found surprising about the news.

“I don’t think he makes the caucus more acceptable, but I don’t think they care,” he said.

Just as surprising was the fact that, according to reports, Good ran for the position unopposed. Sabato speculated that may have been because Good currently has a Republican challenger for his seat, Virginia state Senator John McGuire of Goochland. McGuire, who represents a swath of counties between Richmond and Lynchburg, has attacked Good for not being loyal enough to former President Donald Trump. Although Good endorsed Trump in 2020, he has endorsed his primary challenger Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis this cycle.

“Could he have been trying to signal to very conservative Republicans who control that nominating process in the 5th District, ‘You see? They love me. Our people love me.’ Not meaning the people of the 5th District, but rather the right wing of the right wing,” Sabato said. “There must have been some internal maneuvering if he ran unopposed, because there are a lot of very ambitious members of the Freedom Caucus. Very ambitious.”

Aaron Evans, president of Ruckersville-based GOP consulting firm Winning Republican Strategies, said he believes Good’s new position has derailed McGuire’s candidacy.

“Now that Good is officially the face of the Freedom Caucus, McGuire will have a much harder time convincing Republican voters that Good is a ‘RINO’ [Republican In Name Only],” Evans wrote in a statement. “This introduces some real messaging problems for McGuire who has already been attempting to position himself to the right of Good.”

The Daily Progress could not reach McGuire before press time.

Despite McGuire’s criticisms, Good has pushed hard for certain positions, including the ouster of McCarthy, which he felt was the will of Republican conservative base.

“We were willing to throw down and risk shutting down the government to achieve anything,” Good said at a fundraiser in Louisa this past October. “What we’re going through right now is further exposing the swamp creatures.”

He was unwilling to compromise, as the Freedom Caucus eventually nominated Republican Mike Johnson of Louisiana, who is now Speaker of the House. That unwillingness may have been attractive to other caucus members.

“It may be they want someone viewed as very hardheaded, and Good is. He was impervious to negotiations on McCarthy the first time,” Sabato said. “You can’t negotiate with this guy because he’s driven by right-wing ideology almost entirely.”


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