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John McGuire opts not to attend forum with GOP rival Bob Good

State Sen. John McGuire, who is challenging U.S. Rep. Bob Good in the 5th Congressional District’s June 18 GOP primary will not take part in a May 20 public forum in Amherst County despite an online flyer from the county’s Republican Party billing the two candidates appearing together.

The Amherst County Republican Committee’s Facebook page had advertised a forum for May 20 at Sweet Briar College. A statement from McGuire’s campaign said: “We are not going to be participating in an event that is meant to prop up Bob Good’s failing campaign rather than inform voters on the issues.”

“They released dates without confirming with our campaign, they changed terms and format of the debate after agreements were in place,” a campaign spokesman said.

McGuire, R-Goochland, and Good, chair of the House Freedom Caucus who seeks a third term, have yet to square off in a public debate setting.

In recent months McGuire has repeatedly criticized Good and said he “backstabbed” former President Donald Trump, according to a previous statement, for initially endorsing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in the presidential primary. Good, who has publicly described McGuire as a “perpetual candidate always in search of a race,” after DeSantis dropped out endorsed Trump and has referred to him as the greatest president in his lifetime.

The Amherst County Republican Committee in a news release Thursday said the May 20 event was intended as an informational forum for voters of Amherst County and the 5th Congressional District.

“We request Senator McGuire to show respect to the voters of Amherst County and the 5th Congressional District and [to] reconsider refusal to attend a much-anticipated forum,” the release from John Ruff, the Amherst GOP’s chair, said.

The release urged McGuire to “give the voters of Amherst County” and the district the opportunity to learn more about him and the differences between the two candidates.

“We all know that in a primary the timeline is tight, and tensions can be high,” the release from Ruff said. “In this case, the stage is set, and the people are ready. We ask that both candidates put their passions of campaigning aside and do what the voters need them to do. The Amherst County Republican Committee wants the voters of Amherst County and the 5th Congressional District to [be] able to make an informed decision when voting.”

Ruff’s release concluded by saying the forum is set for May 20 at 7 p.m. in Sweet Briar’s Babcock Fine Arts Center.

The Amherst County Republican Committee Facebook page’s advertised flier states rules for the forum should both candidates attend is cellphones must be turned off, photographing or videoing of the event is prohibited, and attendees may clap but “no heckling, booing or other disruptive behavior.”

In a recent appearance on the Jeff Katz radio show in the Richmond area, McGuire referred to the Amherst forum as “a trap” and said he is willing to debate Good on Katz’s show.

A statement from Diana Shores, Good’s campaign manager and senior political advisor, said “it’s very disappointing that John McGuire would agree to a debate, cancel, reschedule, and then cancel again.” The Good campaign said voters in the district deserve a debate and claimed McGuire has yet to agree on a date for the Jeff Katz show.

“He really doesn’t want to debate Congressman Good,” the Good campaign’s statement said. “We appreciated the work that the Amherst Republican Committee has put in to provide a public debate and Congressman Good still plans to attend the event if it is not cancelled.”

The McGuire campaign through a spokesman said Good “wants a debate about debates because he can’t defend his actions.” The statement claimed in addition to disloyalty to Trump the congressman has undercut Israel as America’s sole ally in the Middle East and failed to fund U.S. troops and veterans.

“People have heard enough words out of him, it’s his actions that speak loudest now,” the McGuire campaign spokesman said. “These are all actions Bob Good has taken and he is now being held accountable in this election.”

Meanwhile, the three candidates vying to represent the Democratic Party for the 5th District in the Nov. 5 election are set to speak at a May 16 forum in Amherst.

Gloria Witt, of Madison Heights; Crozet resident Paul Riley; and Gary Terry, of Danville, are billed for a question-and-answer panel at 7 p.m. May 16 at Second Stage Amherst, 194 Second St., according to the Amherst County Democratic Committee’s Facebook page.


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