Democrats say 2 GOP House hopefuls in Virginia should be kept off the ballot

Republicans Bob Good and Nick Freitas missed June filing deadline

Republican Bob Good, above, defeated Rep. Denver Riggleman for the GOP nomination in Virginia’s 5th District, but Democrats say his failure to meet a paperwork filing deadline should keep him off the November ballot. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Republican Bob Good, above, defeated Rep. Denver Riggleman for the GOP nomination in Virginia’s 5th District, but Democrats say his failure to meet a paperwork filing deadline should keep him off the November ballot. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted July 7, 2020 at 5:00am

National Democrats called on Virginia officials Tuesday to deny requests from Republican House candidates Bob Good and Nick Freitas to appear on the 2020 ballot despite missing the June deadline to file required paperwork. 

“Granting the Requests at this late date would send a clear message to future candidates and the voting public: deadlines for submitting documentation to obtain access to the ballot in Virginia are meaningless,” lawyers for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee — the campaign arm of House Democrats — wrote to the Virginia State Board of Elections in a letter obtained by CQ Roll Call. 

The board is scheduled to consider arguments submitted on behalf of both candidates at a routine meeting Tuesday. With two targeted House seats at stake, both parties are highly invested in the outcome. 

Good, a former Liberty University athletics director and social conservative, won the GOP nomination in the sprawling 5th District last month, beating incumbent Rep. Denver Riggleman at a party convention that the congressman and his supporters say took advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to limit the number of delegates and help skew the results in Good’s favor. 

Democrats are hoping lingering resentments over the GOP outcome could help put the district in play for their nominee, physician and health care policy professor Cameron Webb. President Donald Trump carried the 5th District, which stretches from the Washington exurbs to the North Carolina border, by 12 points in 2016. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the general election Solid Republican. 

Riggleman, meanwhile, has not commented publicly about his plans after saying on the night of the convention that his campaign “was evaluating all our options,” stoking speculation that he would use a filing deadline extension to get on the ballot as a third-party candidate. 

Freitas, a member of the Virginia House of Delegates, is one of six candidates competing at a July 18 Republican convention for the opportunity to challenge freshman Democrat Abigail Spanberger in the 7th District, anchored in the Richmond suburbs. 

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Spanberger, a former CIA undercover officer, became a symbol of the 2018 wave that saw Democrats take control of the House when she unseated tea party-linked GOP Rep. Dave Brat in a district that backed Trump by 7 points. Inside Elections rates the race Tilt Democratic. 

Freitas has taken “responsibility” for his failure to file his nomination papers before the June 9 deadline, an oversight that was particularly embarrassing for him after a similar mistake forced him to wage his 2019 state House campaign as a write-in candidate. 

The state Republican Party has asked the board to allow a blanket deadline extension to all 2020 candidates, arguing that candidates typically consider the deadline to be “primary day” but that wasn’t the case this year because some deadlines were extended to protect voters during the coronavirus pandemic. 

The DCCC letter argues that the extension of other deadlines was “irrelevant.” 

“Mr. Good and Delegate Freitas did not miss the filing deadline because of the coronavirus,” the letter reads. “They simply failed to take the care necessary to meet the deadline.”