High-stakes House primaries in Virginia show fissures across both parties

Two key Virginia primaries will test the power of Trump's influence.

High-stakes primaries in two Virginia congressional districts Tuesday night will test the enduring influence of former President Donald Trump on voters of both parties.

In Virginia's 5th district, Rep. Bob Good, leader of the anti-Republican-establishment House Freedom Caucus, is running up against a challenger bolstered by the endorsements of Trump and former Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy. On Tuesday, voters will signal which brand of conservatism they prefer.

Former Army colonel Yevgeny "Eugene" Vindman secured the 7th district seat that was vacated by Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger to run for governor.

The Republican primary in Virginia's 5th district

Good's willingness to push against his party's establishment has garnered him political power in Congress, but it also brought him a tough primary challenge, and has shown a schism within the more conservative wing of the party.

Good, who was first elected to the House in 2020, is facing state Sen. John McGuire, a primary opponent endorsed by former President Donald Trump and financially backed by Defending Main Street, the pro-incumbent PAC that claims responsibility for ousting former Republican Rep. Steve King.

Rep. Bob Good, R-Va., speaks to supporters at his campaign rally in Louisa, Va., on June 14, 2024.
Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via AP Images

Good has not been afraid to make enemies in his party, voting to oust former Speaker McCarthy and initially endorsing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' bid for president, though he flipped to Trump after DeSantis dropped out.

Good has also attempted to get back in Trump's good graces, traveling up to New York to attend the former president's hush-money trial -- the same day McGuire also made the same trip.

"Bob Good is BAD FOR VIRGINIA, AND BAD FOR THE USA. He turned his back on our incredible movement, and was constantly attacking and fighting me until recently, when he gave a warm and 'loving' Endorsement - But really, it was too late," Trump posted on Truth Social in May.

He added, "John McGuire has my Complete and Total Endorsement!" He posted the attack on Good again on Wednesday.

Former US President and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump addresses supporters during a campaign rally as he celebrates his 78th birthday at West Palm Convention Center, in West Palm Beach, Fla., on June 14, 2024.
Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Good had also received a cease-and-desist from Trump's campaign after using his name and image in campaign material.

"Trump's endorsement represents a huge advantage for McGuire, and that's why Good has tried to suggest that he is actually the favorite of the former president," Stephen J. Farnsworth, professor of political science and international affairs at the University of Mary Washington, told ABC News by email. "While prominent Republicans have split in their preferences in this contest, none of them has anything like the influence with Republican primary voters that the former president has."

The ire Good has drawn has landed him in a vulnerable position. McGuire has outraised Good and holds more cash on hand, according to an analysis of Federal Election Commission (FEC) records by OpenSecrets. The state senator has also benefited from slightly more outside spending, OpenSecrets found.

Good still has the support of groups such as the conservative organization, Club for Growth and Trump-aligned members such as Republican Rep. Byron Donalds.

He has also portrayed himself as a known quantity to his constituents.

"They can trust me; they know that I'm a consistent conservative. They know that I'm the same thing publicly as I am privately, and I think they like that I've been fighting for them," Good told Roanoke, Virginia, TV station WDBJ earlier in June.

Virginia Sen. John McGuire takes part at a campaign event in Charlottesville, Va., June 5, 2024.
Matthew Barakat/AP

McGuire, meanwhile, has slammed Good for portraying himself as a Trump-aligned conservative.

"We found out that Bob is not who he says he is ... All over the district, people are saying, 'thank you for giving us a choice.' And the people of the district are the ones that asked me to do this. And they basically said, 'John, you're the only one who can beat them,'" McGuire told Lynchburg, Virginia, ABC affiliate WSET.

The fight between Good and McGuire has split Republicans both at the national and at the hyperlocal level.

For instance, there are signs of a fissure in the House Freedom Caucus itself. Republican Rep. Warren Davidson, a self-identified member of the House Freedom Caucus, endorsed McGuire on Sunday, writing in a statement shared by McGuire's campaign, "I've served in Congress since 2016, and we need reinforcements to help Make America Great Again ... [McGuire] will work well with others to deliver conservative results."

And at the local level, some Republican leaders from the district have pushed back against Trump's endorsement. The Charlottesville Daily Progress and other local outlets reported that 5th District Republican Congressional Committee Chair Rich Buchanan and other local Republican leaders wrote an open letter to Trump asking him to reconsider his endorsement of McGuire.

"Congressman Bob Good has championed America First policies … Congressman Good's opponent is relying on millions of dollars from outside Virginia to support his candidacy," they wrote.

ABC News has reached out to Buchanan for comment.

The district includes a wide swath of the southern part of the state, including the cities of Charlottesville and Lynchburg, and Cook Political Report rates the seat as likely to safely stay in Republican hands.

The Democratic primary in Virginia's 7th district

The Associated Press projects that Yevgeny "Eugene" Vindman – who broke out alongside his twin brother during the first impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump – has won the Democratic primary for Virginia's 7th congressional district, a swingy district left open by departing Democratic Rep. Spanberger.

With 25% of the votes counted as of 8:07 p.m., according to the AP, Vindman leads with 51% of the vote. His closest challenger, former Virginia House Rep. Elizabeth Guzman, currently has 14.3% of the vote.

Eugene Vindman, Democratic candidate for Virginia's 7th Congressional District, attends a news conference to urge the House to pass the Senate National Security Aid Package, which includes aid to Ukraine, on March 13, 2024.
Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

"The stakes of this election couldn't be higher, the passion behind my campaign comes from voters wanting integrity, moderation, and professionalism in a government that works for them," wrote Vindman in a statement declaring victory. "And our grass-roots movement is coming for the extreme MAGA agenda."

"As your Democratic nominee for VA-07, I will work tirelessly to hold this seat and ensure we can take back the house and continue to preserve this fragile experiment that is our democracy," he continued.

In 2018, Eugene Vindman and his twin brother Alexander -- both staffers for the National Security Council under Trump -- blew the whistle on a phone call in which Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to investigate Hunter Biden's business dealings there. The Vindmans' efforts launched the first of Trump's two impeachment trials and catapulted Alexander and, to a lesser extent, Eugene into the national spotlight.

Vindman's commanding victory was propelled by name recognition, a campaign war chest much larger than his competitors', and his military bona fides in the tightly-contested swing district that many members of the armed forces call home. Per FEC filings, Vindman has raised more than $5 million -- an amount that's more than all of his challengers combined.

"I sacrificed my military career to expose Trump's corruption," Vindman said in a campaign ad. "Now I'm running for Congress to get things done."

As Vindman's four leading opponents have been quick to point out, though, they each have something he does not: Experience governing. Two -- Andrea Bailey and Margaret Franklin -- currently serve as Prince William County supervisors, and, until recently, two others -- Elizabeth Guzman and Briana Sewell -- served as members of Virginia's House of Delegates. Guzman narrowly lost a primary after redistricting; Sewell remains in office.

That's not all that differentiated Vindman from the field. Vindman, who is white, ran alongside three Black women and a Hispanic woman in a diversifying suburban district where roughly 35% of the population is not white, according to 2020 Census data.

Del. Elizabeth Guzman speaks to a fellow legislator after a vote during the House session at the Virginia Capitol, March 8, 2020, in Richmond, Va.
Steve Helber/AP, FILE

While it remains to be seen whether these criticisms will prove weaknesses come November, this primary result provides a strong indication that they were not to the Democrats that turned out Tuesday in VA-07.

The AP projects that Derrick Anderson will win the GOP nomination of Virginia's 7th congressional district, solidifying what's bound to be a cut-throat general election battle between two veterans in a district that's heavily populated by military families. With 91% of the vote counted as of 9:10 PM, Anderson bested his House Freedom Caucus-backed challenger, Cameron Hamilton, 46.0%-36.8%

Anderson, a former Army Green Beret, received support from GOP leadership and finished second in the 2022 primary. Back in March, Anderson praised Trump for his win in the Virginia primary and endorsed his run for the presidency.

ABC News' Isabella Murray contributed to this report.

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