5th District Republican leaders split, some ask Trump to reconsider

Published 1:14 am Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

The letter went out on Thursday, June 6, with 25 Republican leaders signing on. It was a fairly short document, quick and to the point. Multiple members of the 5th District Republican Congressional Committee want former President Donald Trump to change his mind, to reconsider his endorsement of John McGuire in the Republican primary. 

Now before we get into the nuts and bolts, there’s a couple specific details to make clear. This is not an official document from the 5th District Committee. While those 25 Republicans identify themselves as “leaders of the Fighting 5th”, the letter also makes clear these titles are used “for identification purposes only.” It would have been a problem if this had been an official document, as district committees aren’t supposed to take sides in a primary race. Individual county Republican committee leaders, however, are allowed to voice their support for whatever candidate they want. 

Yes, 5th District Chairman Rick Buchanan signed the letter, as did all three of his vice chairs, as well as the committee recording secretary and treasurer. Prince Edward County’s Daniel Bradshaw, an elected member of the Republican State Central Committee, signed his name, as did Cumberland County Republican Committee Chair Glen Mozingo and Robin Wolfskill, chair of the Appomattox committee. 

Detailing complaints in the 5th District letter

Email newsletter signup

The letter argues that if McGuire is chosen as the Republican nominee for the 5th District, it could damage the group later this year. 

“(McGuire) does not represent the values of the Republicans of the 5th District and has proven so by refusing to debate Congressman Good on the issues that matter to us,” the letter states. “In fact, the endorsement (of McGuire) may, in fact, hurt the strong support of conservatives for President Trump in the Fighting 5th that he will need in November.” 

The letter goes on to criticize McGuire for filing to run for Congress less than two weeks after being elected to the Virginia Senate last November and before he was sworn into his current office. 

By contrast, the letter states, Good has “championed America First policies by introducing legislation to codify policies defunding chain migration and requiring that immigrants are self-sufficient. He also offered multiple bills that would build upon Trump’s regulatory relief for businesses across the country.”

The group also points out Good has a 100% score from Heritage Action for America, the Family Research Council, Americans for Prosperity, Conservative Review and Numbers USA, for his conservative voting record. 

Not everyone is in support 

To be clear, not all of the 5th District County Committee chairs signed on. In our area, Buckingham, Charlotte, Lunenburg and Prince Edward’s Republican chairs did not sign the letter. Multiple county chairs said they felt it was important to remain neutral. And others questioned how the signees could expect Trump to support Good after the events so far this year. 

“I haven’t pushed my committee to support a candidate and I think the actions of these chairs in endorsing and working for candidates in an official capacity is disgusting,” said Ramona Christian. She serves as the Republican committee chairperson in Buckingham County. 

Christian argued that Trump had a clear justification for endorsing Good’s opponent in the Republican primary, as Good did the same to him in the presidential primary this year. Good came out in support of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, urging people to vote for him rather than Trump as the Republican candidate. So why would Trump turn around and endorse the person who called for him to be replaced, Christian asked. 

“He has been betrayed and attacked by Bob Good over and over again,” Christian said.

She also points out this letter comes not even two weeks after the Trump campaign sent cease and desist letters to Good, requiring him to stop putting out specific signs. In Cumberland and Prince Edward counties, there have been several signs put up that say “Republican: Trump/Bob Good”. Trump’s lawyers argued this gave the impression the former president supported Good, which isn’t the case. 

“To be clear, neither you nor your campaign are authorized to use President Trump’s name or the Campaign’s to falsely imply their support of your candidacy,” Trump’s attorney David A. Warrington wrote in his May 31 letter to Good, which The Herald has a copy of. “Nor are you or your campaign authorized to claim that you represent or are otherwise associated with President Trump or the Campaign.”

So why, Christian asked, should Trump, not even a week later, reverse his endorsement?

Differences of opinion in 5th District

“It sounds like this is a rogue, non-functioning committee by this behavior,” Christian said of the leaders who filed the open letter. 

That last comment refers to some relationships already damaged before this letter went out. In March, the 5th District Committee majority voted to dissolve the Buckingham County Republican Committee, of which Christian was the chair, citing a number of mistakes made in how the group’s mass meeting was conducted and how committee leaders were elected. The committee had ordered Buckingham to redo the meeting, while Christian said and showed evidence that she was told it wasn’t necessary to redo the vote, by the Republican Party of Virginia’s general legal counsel. 

The 5th District group organized a new vote, after dissolving the group, only to see Buckingham Republicans turn out and elect the same people as before. In dissolving the group, the 5th District majority said Buckingham had “failed to function properly as a unit of the Republican Party of Virginia.” 

Christian questioned how the leaders were helping the party by criticizing one of the candidates in an ongoing Republican primary.

Other committee chairs said they chose not to go along with the letter, but wasn’t surprised it was sent.

Lunenburg County Republican Committee chairman Flint Lewis said he chose not to sign the letter or publicly endorse any candidate at all in the race. 

I felt that as a newly elected chair, it would be best to maintain a neutral stance so that all candidates would feel comfortable visiting Lunenburg County,” Lewis said. “I would like to build a reputation of treating all sides fairly before making public endorsements.” 

But at the same time, he’s not surprised that other county chairs asked Trump to reconsider.  

“We are people who are politically involved to the point that we would basically take a part time job with a $0 salary,” Lewis said. “If there is only one statement true of all unit chairs, they are people who care about the political process. A chairman endorsing is about as surprising as a Red Cross volunteer donating blood. Anyone passionate enough to run for chair will have an opinion. I can tell you from personal experience that suppressing said opinion for the good of the committee is much harder than endorsing publicly.” 

Voting continues in 5th District

As for the primary itself, early voting continues as we count down to Primary Day on June 18. To be clear, in early voting, you don’t head to the same precinct as you do in November. If you wait until the day of the primary, then yes, you would go to the precinct as normal. But if you want to vote before that, the voting locations are a bit more limited.
Early voting is limited to one location, the registrar’s office in each county. In Prince Edward County, that’s located on the second floor of the courthouse at 124 N. Main St. in Farmville. For Buckingham, it’s at 13360 W. James Anderson Highway. And for Cumberland, the office is at 1487 Anderson Highway.
As for when you can go, citizens will be able to vote at the location from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and Saturdays on June 8 and June 15, also from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
And just a reminder, to vote early, you will need to do a few things. First, you’ll need to provide your name and address. Second, you have to show an ID. Acceptable IDs include a driver’s license, DMV-issued ID card, employee ID card with a photo, US Military ID or government-issued ID card. You can also use a recent utility bill, bank statement, government check, or paycheck containing your name and address.