NEWS & Insights

Two Overtime Races Nearing End

A pair of tight June primaries that have lagged coming to a final conclusion are now close to completion.

Yesterday, the Virginia Board of Elections certified state Sen. John McGuire (R-Manakin Sabot) as the 5th Congressional District Republican primary winner defeating two-term Rep. Bob Good (R-Lynchburg). The certification, however, doesn’t necessarily end the process under the Virginia electoral system.

Because Utah is one of the all-mail voting states, receiving and counting the ballots takes some time. Though it earlier appeared that US Rep. Celeste Maloy (R-Cedar City) has been renominated, the later votes have swung significantly toward her opponent, businessman Colby Jenkins.

Reportedly, all untainted ballots are now tabulated, and Rep. Maloy’s margin has dropped to 309 votes from a turnout of more than 106,000 Individuals. The only ballots not included in this count are the ones that may be ineligible due to verification issues.

The margin is still beyond the automatic recount range under Utah election law, but Mr. Jenkins can request and finance a recount of all ballots. An automatic recount occurs if the difference between the candidates is less than a quarter of a percentage point.

Considering the total turnout, the margin would have to drop to 266 votes, or 43 votes in Jenkins’ favor from the present total. It is unlikely, however, that a new count will differ to the point of overturning the original outcome. The final canvass necessary to certify the vote won’t occur until July 22nd.

Virginia Sen. McGuire’s final total gives him a 374 vote win from almost 63,000 ballots cast, or 50.3% of the vote.

The Old Dominion has no official recount law, but Rep. Good can now request and finance a full recount and is reportedly raising money for such a move. He has a ten-day period in which to make the request. Like in the Utah race, it is unlikely that a recount will change the final total to the degree that it alters the certified outcome. Previously, Rep. Good challenged the City of Lynchburg’s count due to a faulty machine, but the local election officials claim the affected number of votes is likely fewer than ten.

Sen. McGuire becomes the prohibitive favorite to defeat Democrat Gloria Witt in the general election. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates VA-5 as R+14. Former President Trump carried this district in 2020 with a 53-45% margin but is expected to do better in the current election.

Once Sen. McGuire becomes the congressional incumbent it will be interesting to see if Mr. Good returns in 2026 for a Republican rematch. Under the unique Virginia system, every district can hold their own style of primary. In his two victorious nomination elections, one that featured him defeating an incumbent freshman Representative (Denver Riggleman), Rep. Good was nominated by a district convention that his supporters dominated. The current 2024 campaign was the first time he faced a primary electorate.

The other option Virginia district committees have is to institute a “firehouse primary,” one in which all registered voters can vote but only a very limited number of polling places are established throughout the district. Due to certain new electoral deadlines, this is the first election where all Virginia congressional districts held partisan primaries and on the same day.

Most political observers believed that Good would lose to McGuire, so the closeness of the contest was a surprise to many. Several released polls during the campaign projected McGuire with a significant lead, one much larger than the final totals.

Mr. Good, chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, drew the anger of many party leaders for being an organizer of the movement that led to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) ouster. With McCarthy helping to raise outside money to assist McGuire along with former President Trump’s endorsement of the challenger placed difficult obstacles for Good to overcome despite him being the incumbent.

Rep. Maloy was first elected in a November 2023 special election to replace her former boss, then-Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT) who resigned from Congress because of a family health matter. Winning the Republican nominating convention, she then took the special primary by six percentage points and easily won the special general.

For the regular cycle, Ms. Maloy fell to second place in the nominating convention, losing to Mr. Jenkins who had Sen. Mike Lee’s (R-UT) support.

Not circulating nominating petitions as a safety valve against a poor convention performance, Ms. Maloy only managed 43% delegate support, just three percentage points above the minimum to qualify for the ballot. Therefore, with no petitions, she came dangerously close to not advancing into the general election. Rep. Maloy’s poor performance in the Republican primary suggests that she will again be vulnerable in the 2026 nomination process.

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