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Leader of hardline US House Republican group faces Trump-backed challenger

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By Moira Warburton

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Representative Bob Good, the leader of a bloc of hardline House Republicans, faces off on Tuesday against a primary challenger backed by both Donald Trump and a key group of moderate Republicans.

The winner of the contest between the House Freedom Caucus chair and former Navy SEAL John McGuire is expected to easily carry the strongly Republican-leaning southern Virginia district in the Nov. 5 election, when control of the White House and both chambers of Congress will be up for grabs.

Good angered former President Trump by endorsing Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in his Republican presidential primary campaign against Trump, switching his endorsement to Trump only after DeSantis dropped out.

Good also ignited the ire of moderate Republicans after he voted to remove Speaker Kevin McCarthy from his role in October, launching weeks of chaos and bitter, highly public infighting as Republicans attempted to coalesce around a replacement.

Trump endorsed Good’s challenger McGuire, a Virginia state senator, in a May social media post. Defending Main Street, the super PAC affiliated with the moderate Republican Main Street Caucus, has spent $600,000 on ads to defeat Good.

“He’s a Republican in name only,” Sarah Chamberlain, CEO of the Republican Main Street Partnership, the nonprofit organization affiliated with the caucus, said. The group does not normally work to oust incumbents, she said, calling Good “a unique situation” after he campaigned against moderate Republican colleagues in their primaries and voted against Republican bills on the House floor.

Following Trump’s endorsement of McGuire, Good said in a statement, “I have never been the choice of political power brokers in Washington.”

DEMOCRATS NOMINATE CANDIDATES

Virginia Democrats and Republicans will also pick candidates on Tuesday to vie for the seats currently held by Democratic U.S. Representatives Jennifer Wexton and Abigail Spanberger, both elected in 2018 when their party won control of the House for the second half of Trump’s term.

The districts could also play an important role in Democrats’ efforts to win back a House majority in November.

In Virginia’s 7th district, Eugene Vindman, the brother of Alexander Vindman, who played an important role in Trump’s first impeachment, is seeking the Democratic nomination for Spanberger’s seat, which she is leaving to run for governor.

Derrick Anderson, a former Green Beret, and Cameron Hamilton, a former NAVY Seal, are jostling for the Republican nomination in the competitive district where many military families live.

In Virginia’s 10th district, Democratic candidates seeking to succeed the retiring Wexton include state Representative Dan Helmer, state Senator Suhas Subramanyam and Eileen Filler-Corn, former speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates. The winner of Tuesday’s primary is strongly favored to win the heavily Democratic district in November.

(Reporting by Moira Warburton in Washington, editing by Deepa Babington)

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