Trump's endorsement against Freedom Caucus chair marks latest tussle with House hard conservatives

The primary endorsement is far from the first time that Trump has found himself at odds with the bloc, which currently boasts 41 members, or just under 20% of the House Republican Conference.

Published: May 28, 2024 11:00pm

Former President Donald Trump on Tuesday endorsed state representative John McGuire to represent Virginia’s 5th Congressional District, pitting the ex-commander-in-chief against one of the House’s most stalwart conservative figures.

McGuire is mounting a primary challenge to Rep. Bob Good, who has led the House Freedom Caucus since January of this year. The Virginia Republican was one of a group of eight who voted to oust then-House Speaker Kevin McCarthy from leadership last October. 

The primary endorsement is far from the first time that Trump has found himself at odds with the hard-right bloc, which currently boasts 41 members, or just under 20% of the House Republican Conference. Beyond the Freedom Caucus, however, Trump has repeatedly found himself at odds with other House conservatives, which could present a problem for him should he return to the White House and face a relatively small House majority comparable to the lower chamber’s current makeup.

In endorsing McGuire, Trump highlighted Good’s delayed endorsement of his candidacy in 2024, apparently referencing the Virginia lawmaker’s initial support for Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis, who challenged Trump in the Republican primary, albeit unsuccessfully.

“Bob Good is BAD FOR VIRGINIA, AND BAD FOR THE USA. He turned his back on our incredible movement, and was constantly attacking and fighting me until recently, when he gave a warm and ‘loving’ Endorsement - But really, it was too late. The damage had been done!” Trump declared in a post on Truth Social.

“I just want to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, and the person that can most help me do that is Navy Seal and highly respected State Legislator, John McGuire, a true American Hero. John, who fought the Cartels on the Front Line, and then came home and fought the drug dealers in Virginia, will ALWAYS PUT AMERICA FIRST,” he went on. “I had the safest Border in history, built hundreds of miles of Wall, and then Crooked Joe Biden came along and ruined it, making it one of the worst human catastrophes ever in our Country.”

“John and I will correct this situation, and fast! He is strong on crime, will protect our great Military/Vets, and will always defend our under siege Second Amendment. John McGuire has my Complete and Total Endorsement! MAGA2024,” Trump concluded.

Trump is not alone in hoping to oust Good from his congressional seat, however, as a coalition of Republicans earlier this year began working against his reelection.

"Bob Good didn’t come here to govern," Wisconsin GOP Rep. Derrick Van Orden said in April. "He came here to be famous. Bob Good’s wearing our jersey, and he’s not on the team."

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., celebrated Trump’s endorsement of McGuire, calling Good a “back stabbing traitor” and saying that Good “endorsed against Trump the day Trump was indicted in NY and then ran back and endorsed Trump the day his candidate dropped out.”

Greene was removed from the Freedom Caucus last year following her high-profile break with the bloc over its efforts to keep McCarthy from claiming the speaker’s gavel in early 2023. 

While she has typically been closely aligned with Trump, moreover, she has recently found herself on the opposite side of the former president over a similar matter. Greene championed a motion to vacate the chair against House Speaker Mike Johnson, along with Kentucky GOP Rep. Thomas Massie.

Greene had accused Johnson of a “total surrender” to the Democrats on matters of federal spending and foreign aid, taking specific issue with his support for a $1.2 trillion “minibus” spending package. The motion to vacate failed decisively.

Trump, for his part, had attempted to diffuse the situation, offering his support for both Johnson and Greene, though he urged Republicans not to remove Johnson.

“I absolutely love Marjorie Taylor Greene. She’s got Spirit, she’s got Fight, and I believe she’ll be around, and on our side, for a long time to come,” he said at the time. “However, right now, Republicans have to be fighting the Radical Left Democrats, and all the Damage they have done to our Country.”

“With a Majority of One, shortly growing to three or four, we’re not in a position of voting on a Motion to Vacate. At some point, we may very well be, but this is not the time,” he continued. “We are leading in the Presidential Polls by a lot, both Nationally and in the Swing States. Likewise, we are doing well in the Senate, and I believe will do well in the House. But if we show DISUNITY, which will be portrayed as CHAOS, it will negatively affect everything!”

Like Good, Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, endorsed DeSantis in the primary and offered pointed criticisms of the former president throughout the process. Trump previously backed Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., over Roy during his bid to become Conference chair.

Roy’s criticisms struck at the heart of Trump’s record, namely the issue of immigration and the securing of the southern border. In February, for example, he rejected Trump’s claims that a president could prevent all persons from illegally crossing the border, saying “Well, with all due respect, that didn’t happen in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020. There were millions of people that came in the United States during those four years,” The Hill reported. He did, however, acknowledge that the Trump administration had worked to the secure the border and reduced the number of illegal crossings.

Trump, for his part, called Roy a “RINO” or “Republican-in-name-only” and solicited a primary challenge against him. Roy did not face a significant primary challenge, however, as Trump’s call came past the deadline for filing one’s candidacy.

“Has any smart and energetic Republican in the Great State of Texas decided to run in the Primary against RINO Congressman Chip Roy. For the right person, he is very beatable. If interested, let me know!!!” Trump posted on Truth Social in December. 

Thomas Massie

Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., has long feuded with Trump, largely due to the Kentucky lawmaker’s more libertarian leanings on foreign policy and deficit spending.

Massie was one of a handful of lawmakers who signed on to Greene’s effort to remove Johnson, also pitting him against Trump on the issue. But Massie’s disputes with Trump stretch back years and the Kentucky lawmaker also endorsed DeSantis during the 2024 primary.

Prompting Massie’s ire in March was a similar solicitation of a primary challenge by Trump against Florida GOP Rep. Laurel Lee, who also backed DeSantis. 

"Any great MAGA Republicans looking to run against Laurel Lee in Florida's 15th Congressional District? IF SO, PLEASE STEP FORWARD!" Trump asked. Lee had endorsed Trump after DeSantis left the race.

Massie, for his part, fumed over Trump’s post and urged his colleagues to voice their opposition to the former president’s efforts.

"This is unhelpful and unwarranted. [Laurel Lee] is a conservative thoughtful member of the judiciary committee," he said at the time. "She endorsed DeSantis for President but then endorsed Trump when DeSantis got out of the race. More of my colleagues should call out these ridiculous bullying tactics."

The Trump campaign did not provide a comment to Just the News by press time.

Ben Whedon is an editor and reporter for Just the News. Follow him on X.

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