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Race between key US House Republican and Trump-backed challenger too close to call

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By Moira Warburton

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The race between U.S. Representative Bob Good, a prominent hardline House Republican, and a primary challenger backed by both Donald Trump and a key group of moderate Republicans, remained too close to call on Tuesday night.

The winner of the contest between Good, chair of the House Freedom Caucus, 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.

Virginia state laws allow for a recount if results are within one percentage point. McGuire led Good by 0.4% – less than 300 votes – with 92% of votes counted, according to the Associated Press at time of publication.

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 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, was projected by the Associated Press to win the Democratic nomination for Spanberger’s seat, which she is leaving to run for governor.

Derrick Anderson, a former Green Beret, beat Cameron Hamilton, a former NAVY Seal, for the Republican nomination in the competitive district where many military families live, according to the Associated Press.

In Virginia’s 10th district, state Senator Democratic Suhas Subramanyam edged out a win in a crowded race to succeed the retiring Wexton, who endorsed him in May. The winner of Tuesday’s primary is strongly favored to win the heavily Democratic district in November.

Polls closed in Virginia at 7 p.m. (2300 GMT).

(Reporting by Moira Warburton in Washington, Editing by Deepa Babington, Cynthia Osterman and Michael Perry)

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