GOP fears ex-lawmaker’s candidacy will help Obama win swing-state Virginia

July 30, 2012

By Molly K. Hooper – The Hill

A former House Republican lawmaker could siphon votes from Mitt Romney in the battleground state of Virginia and boost President Obama’s chances of winning a second term.

Former five-term Rep. Virgil Goode, who represented southwest Virginia’s 5th District, has a strong chance of making it on the state’s general election ballot. That would set up a potential Ralph Nader-like spoiler scenario circa 2000.

At that time, then-Vice President Al Gore, the Democratic presidential nominee, lost the state of Florida by fewer than 600 votes to former President George W. Bush. Nader, a liberal third-party candidate, won nearly 100,000 votes in the Sunshine State.

A similar scenario could play out in Virginia if Goode’s name appears on the ballot in November, according to a recent poll.

According to a Public Policy Polling (PPP) survey of Virginia voters, Goode would win 9 percent of the vote, with Romney winning 35 percent to Obama’s 49 percent, with a margin of error of 3.9 percent.

Goode discounted the polling firm’s numbers, which showed him taking votes from Romney.

The Democrat, turned Independent, turned Republican, turned Constitution Party member told The Hill that he’s not worried about taking votes from Romney, sharing an anecdote from a recent petition signature gathering event.

“A local Republican committee member from Bedford [Va.] said, ‘I want you to know Virgil that I’m not going to vote for you; I’m going to vote for Romney. But I’m going to sign your petition because I know a lot of disgruntled Democrats that won’t vote for Romney under any circumstances. But if you’re on the ballot, they will vote for you — not all of them but a lot of them,’” Goode said.

But one political insider says that while Goode may win votes from southern Democrats who are not fond of Obama, the Constitution Party candidate will win more votes from Republicans frustrated with Romney.

“Goode is a household name in the 5th district, and could be Romney’s worst nightmare if he qualifies for the ballot,” GOP political operative Ford O’Connell told The Hill.

Should Goode get on the ballot, his name would appear as an “independent.”

Even though some GOP insiders discount the PPP poll, they do worry that Goode could garner one or two percentage points from Romney. That would be enough, they say, to hand a Virginia victory to Obama.

Despite the high stakes, Goode says that he hasn’t heard from any of his former congressional colleagues to ask him to back down.

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