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Virgil Goode: "Groups have talked to me about running"

Amy Gardner

Former Virginia congressman Virgil Goode said in an interview today that "a couple of groups" have asked him to run for his old seat in central and southside Virginia's 5th Congressional District -- and while he didn't say he would, he didn't say he wouldn't, either.

Goode, a lawyer from Rocky Mount, said he's paying close attention to the seven candidates seeking the Republican nomination to challenge Democrat Tom Perriello, who unseated Goode two years ago by fewer than 1,000 votes. Goode said his hope is that Republicans will nominate a candidate "who shares most of my beliefs and my ideals."

Goode demurred when asked whether that description describes Robert Hurt, the state senator from Chatham who enjoys the backing of a number of state and national Republicans but is not viewed as sufficiently conservative by local Tea Party organizers. Conservative activists are also rankled that party leaders have anointed Hurt without regard to the views of local Republicans. (Last week, House Minority Whip Eric I. Cantor disclosed that he had given Hurt $7,000 from his leadership and campaign committees.)

Although Goode said he knows and likes all the candidates and described Hurt as "a nice fellow," he said he, too, was chagrined at Republican leaders' involvement in the race. He even gently criticized a longtime ally of his, Tucker Watkins, chairman of the Fifth District Republican Committee, for what he views as Watkins' tacit support of Hurt.

"The fifth district chairman should be neutral and not be for one candidate or another," Goode said. "He's not neutral. He's working very hard. Being neutral is also not being against other candidates."

Goode said he has not sought the attentions of the activists who are urging him to run, and he reiterated his position of last summer, when he said he "wasn't seeking" the Republican nomination.

But wait! Does that mean a third-party Goode campaign is a possibility? Or that he'd jump into the primary if sufficiently pressed by like-minded conservatives? And what does this do to Republican chances in the 5th, widely viewed as one of the most vulnerable Democratic seats in the nation? Stay tuned!

By Amy Gardner  |  January 17, 2010; 2:28 PM ET
Categories:  2010 Virginia Congressional Races , Election 2010 , Eric Cantor , Robert Hurt , Tom Perriello  
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