NEWS & Insights

Cole Crushes; Good Down; Jack Wins

Another series of primaries were held yesterday and while one incumbent scored a landslide victory against an opponent who spent over $5 million to defeat him, another race will likely take several days to finalize.

Georgia

In the Peach State congressional runoffs, former Trump White House aide Brian Jack, as expected, cruised to a secondary election victory over state Sen. Mike Dugan (R-Carrollton). Mr. Jack recorded just under 63% of the vote in the preliminary count, thus virtually assuring him of winning the general election in November. He will replace retiring Congressman Drew Ferguson (R-The Rock/Carrollton) in a district the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates as R+38.

In the 2nd District, businessman and former congressional and Senatorial candidate Wayne Johnson easily defeated his Republican opponent, political activist Chuck Hand, with 66% of the vote. Mr. Johnson now advances to the general election as a decided underdog against 16-term veteran Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-Albany).

The Democrats now have a nominee against Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Rome) in District 14. Retired Army General Shawn Harris easily won his runoff election with 69% of the vote to claim the party nomination. Rep. Greene is rated as a prohibitive favorite in the general election in a GA-14 CD that FiveThirtyEight rates as R+45.

Oklahoma

The Sooner State’s big race featured an expensive challenge to veteran Rep. Tom Cole (R-Moore/Norman) in the state’s southern 4th Congressional District. Mr. Cole, now chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, easily overcame more than $5 million of self-funding expenditure from his Republican primary opponent, businessman Paul Bondar, in capturing just under 65% of the vote.

The major attack against Bondar was him becoming a new Oklahoma resident just before declaring his candidacy. One of the most prominent ads against Bondar was the Cole forces proving that the challenger had voted in the Texas primary on March 5th. As is often the case with self-funders who spend a great deal on advertising but have no entrenched local support, the result is a big loss.

The other four Republican incumbents either were unopposed or scored landslide victories over weak opponents. All five GOP House members are heavy favorites to win a new term in November.

Virginia

The top race of the evening came in Virginia’s 5th Congressional District where state Sen. John McGuire (R-Manakin Sabot) may have defeated Rep. Bob Good (R-Lynchburg) with a razor thin vote margin. It will likely be several days before we see final totals here because the post-election ballots, i.e., those coming in from overseas could make a difference in the outcome.

At this writing, Mr. McGuire holds a 315 vote lead over Rep. Good with approximately 96% of the vote recorded. There could be as many as 1,800 votes outstanding in addition to the 62,425 votes that the Secretary of State reports as being counted. Both men carried 12 of the district’s 24 counties. One, Appomattox County, appears to be decided in Rep. Good’s favor by just three votes.

A cursory overview of the counties reporting outstanding votes suggests that Mr. McGuire will win the race with a margin of approximately 200-250 votes, without having knowledge of just how many ballots will come into the vote centers in the post-election reception period.

Should the McGuire margin hold, Mr. Good will become the first incumbent from either party to lose to a 2024 intraparty challenger. The result is positive for former President Trump, who endorsed McGuire after Good supported Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ presidential effort. Rep. Good was one of the leaders of the movement to oust then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy, and the former House leader was active in raising money for a Super PAC that spent heavily with the goal of helping to defeat two-term Virginia Congressman.

Elsewhere in the Old Dominion, retired Navy Captain and former congressional candidate Hung Cao was an easy Republican primary winner. He recorded 62% of the vote against four Republican opponents. Mr. Cao now advances to the general election where he will face an extreme uphill battle against veteran Senator and former Vice Presidential nominee Tim Kaine (D).

In House District 2, businesswoman and Navy veteran Missy Cotter Smasal scored a landslide victory in the Democratic primary. Ms. Smasal will now face freshman Rep. Jen Kiggans (R-Virginia Beach) in a district that only slightly favors the Republicans. According to the FiveThirtyEight organization, VA-2 rates as an R+6 district.

In open District 7, voters in both parties confirmed their expected nominees, retired Army Lt. Col. Eugene Vindman for the Democrats and attorney and Iraq and Afghan War veteran Derrick Anderson on the GOP side. In a district rated D+2, this will be a hotly contested campaign in November. Mr. Vindman will be cast as a slight favorite. Current incumbent Abigail Spanberger (D-Glen Allen) did not seek re-election in order to prepare for a 2025 open gubernatorial campaign.

District 10 also featured a crowded, competitive Democratic primary, with the winner having the inside track to replace retiring Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-Leesburg) who is leaving Congress due to a serious health issue. Her endorsed candidate, state Delegate Suhas Subramanyam (D-Loudoun County), scored a 30-27% victory over state Delegate Dan Helmer (D-Fairfax) and 10 others to capture the party nomination.

We offer this political insights report for your information and not as a predictor or representative of opinions of HBS or its employees.