"We need loyalists": Far-right Freedom Caucus chairman in MAGA civil war over tepid Trump support

Rep. Bob Good, R-Va., has been deemed insufficiently loyal by former President Donald Trump and his MAGA allies

By Charles R. Davis

Deputy News Editor

Published June 18, 2024 10:13AM (EDT)

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

The only thing that matters in today’s GOP is unequivocally supporting, at all times, the Republican Party’s three-time nominee for president amid a criminal conviction and hundreds of millions in court judgments. You can oppose abortion, support guns, demonize immigrants — you could even back ending the American democratic project to keep the loser of an election in the White House — and that is still not enough: To survive, one must be truly, unflinchingly devoted to one man.

Rep. Bob Good, R-Va., is chair of the House Freedom Caucus, a collection of some of the most far-right lawmakers ever make it to Congress. Elected in 2020, one of his first votes was to block President Joe Biden’s victory in the Electoral College; one of his staffers, district director Sandy Adams, was on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol as MAGA enthusiasts bludgeoned cops with flag poles during the Jan. 6 insurrection.

If you think that’s sufficient, you are not Donald Trump. Good, who is up for reelection today, has been expelled from the Mar-a-Lago extended universe — not for deviating from the Republican platform or embracing “Critical Race Theory,” but for the crime of once thinking that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was, as conservative media once suggested, the more competent and electorally palatable heir to Trump’s political fortune.

“After I won the primary he became a big fan — that’s not good enough,” Trump said this week at a virtual rally for state Sen. John McGuire, who is running to take Good’s seat in Virginia’s Fifth Congressional District, The Wall Street Journal reported. Their policy positions are close enough that the only thing voters really have to go off, in terms of differentiating the two, is whether or not Trump likes them today.

McGuire, for his part, is leaning in to the cult of personality, boasting to prospective voters that he is the “Trump Endorsed” candidate, a fact he wears on his sleeve.

“If you look at Trump’s endorsement for me, compared to all the other endorsements he’s done all year, he hit Bob harder than he’s hit anybody else’s opponent,” McGuire told the Journal.

Ricky Pritchett, a small business owner, told the paper that’s enough for him: He’s voting McGuire “because Trump supports him.” It’s also enough for several of Good’s own Freedom Caucus comrades.

“We need loyalists,” Rep. Marjorie Taylor-Greene, R-Ga., explained at a rally for McGuire. Good “kicked Trump when he was down, and went and endorsed another candidate,” she said, per The New York Times. Can’t have that.

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Good does still enjoy some MAGA support, with former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, set to report to prison next month for defying a congressional subpoena, using his last moments of freedom before the November election to stump for the incumbent, whose district includes Charlottesville. Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, is likewise claiming it is Good who is the MAGA candidate who has been “daring to take on the swamp”; the swamp, in this case, being the Trump-led Republican establishment.

But the lawmaker, to survive in Trump’s party, has also had to fake some of his credentials. In May, the former president sent Good a cease-and-desist letter after the congressman put up yard signs with his name just below Trump’s, suggesting a vote for one was a vote for the other.

Trump, in a post on his Truth Social website Monday night, made clear that a vote for Good would be “BAD FOR VIRGINIA.”

The former president did not identify any policy disputes nor any issues of character. Rather, he said, Good was “fighting me until recently, when he gave a warm and ‘loving’ Endorsement – But really, it was too late!”

Whoever wins Tuesday's battle will be on the ballot in November, with or without Trump's support in a district that hasn't been won by a Democrat since 2008. Polls close at 7:00 p.m.

By Charles R. Davis

Charles R. Davis is Salon's deputy news editor. His work has aired on public radio and been published by outlets such as The Guardian, The Daily Beast, The New Republic and Columbia Journalism Review.

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Bob Good Chip Roy Donald Trump Marjorie Taylor Greene