Why the Good, McGuire race in House GOP primary is still too close to call

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Posted at 7:01 PM, Jun 25, 2024

LYNCHBURG, Va. -- Rep. Bob Good is promising to keep the fight going, both State Senator John McGuire and the Republican Party of Virginia say primary election results will hold, and the Associated Press says the 5th District GOP primary race remains too close to call, as local election offices begin finalizing their results.

This is the state of play in one of the most widely watched congressional primaries in the country, where McGuire maintains a slim vote lead over Good, the House Freedom Caucus Chairman.

Since election night, local election offices have been finalizing vote tallies throughout the district, and both candidates have seen their totals grow slightly. McGuire's lead has grown by a couple dozen votes during the canvassing process, which is standard for elections as provisional or mailed in ballots are counted.

Good's campaign manager said they plan to pursue a recount, since the unofficial vote margin remains less than 1% of the vote (around 0.6% as of June 25).

Good declined an interview request, but appeared on Steve Bannon's podcast War Room last week.

“We’re going to make sure to the best of our ability that every legal and legitimate vote is counted and only every legal and legitimate vote. We’re going to pursue every suspicion of malfeasance," Good said.

On social media and in appearances on conservative media platforms, Good's team has raised questions about the processing of ballots in the city of Lynchburg, claiming election officials improperly took in ballots from a drop box there after Election Day, which is no permitted by state law.

The Lynchburg registrar told the AP the issue was a procedural error, but there were only seven ballots in the drop box. The Virginia Department of Elections is monitoring the situation, according to the AP.

Good won Lynchburg's vote by a sizable margin, and the number of affected ballots would not influence the outcome as results stand now.

The day after the election, Good's campaign also tweeted about three fires at voting precincts in the district while the polls were open.

"We had 3 'fires' on election day in three precincts, all requiring the precincts to be evacuated for 20 minutes. Albemarle County, Hanover County, and Lynchburg City. What is the probability? Does anyone recall even one fire at a precinct on election day?" the message read.

Hanover Fire officials said mechanical failure on a hot water heater at Patrick Henry High School caused steam that lead someone there to pulling a fire alarm. Officials said the polling location was evacuated for about 20 minutes, but the situation was quickly resolved.

Albemarle County officials said water damage to a ceiling tile at Crozet Elementary tripped an alarm at the school, causing a brief evacuation.

In both instances, officials said election workers followed procedures to secure ballots already cast and restart voting once fire crews cleared the situation.

Lynchburg's fire chief said they had zero calls to polling locations on Election Day.

As things stand the evening of June 25, McGuire's lead is around 370 votes, a 50.3% lead over Good's 49.7%.

The margin would qualify for a recount, which Good would have to request in court and pay for should the results hold. The State Board of Elections meets July 2 to certify the results from all primary elections, and the Good campaign would have to wait until then to file for the recount, per state law.

"The people of our district are reaching out to our campaign demanding that we pursue a recount. Our donors, our volunteers, and our supporters expect it," campaign manager Diana Shores said in statement. "This isn't about Bob Good. This is about the people of the district. Already thousands of dollars in donations have come in for our recount efforts. We will pursue the recount to settle any questions about the fairness or transparency of the election process. This way, voters can confidently move forward to the general election.”

McGuire declared victory on Election Night and doubled down in a statement Monday.

"While I understand the desire to continue the fight, the outcome of this election will not change. The fight is over, and it’s time to move on and work together as a team. I’ve always found that that’s the best way to get things done for We the People. I’m looking forward to serving our great country in a new way!” the statement read.

CBS 6 political analyst Dr. Bob Holsworth said he anticipated the defeated candidate in this race would raise concerns over election integrity, since both back unfounded claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen. However, Holsworth said it's doubtful much comes of these claims.

“The people who are involved in the electoral process work very hard to make sure that it’s fair. Virginia has a very good system for provisional ballots and absentee ballots. It’s just hard for me to imagine there there is fraud at the level that would change a 300 vote election," he said.

As for the recount process, Holsworth said recounts typically do not change the final result of an election when the vote margin is this large.

“Most of the changes that would be made in an election actually occur during the canvasing process, if someone called in a number inaccurately or somebody on the phone had the number transposed inaccurately," he said. "It’s very doubtful you could see a recount that would change 300 votes. By and large, they change handfuls of votes, not hundreds.”

The State Board of Elections July 2 meeting is at 1 p.m.

This is a developing story, so anyone with more information can email to send a tip.

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