Appearing together for the first time, Democrat Cameron Webb repeatedly emphasized he is a “consensus-builder” ready to work on health care in Congress, while Republican Bob Good urged people not to be swayed by Webb’s depiction of himself as a moderate.
Good and Webb met virtually Sept. 9 for their only scheduled forum, where they spent more than an hour conveying what sets them apart from each other. Good said he would go to Congress to support President Donald Trump’s agenda and that Webb backed “radical” policies.
Webb accused Good of misleading voters about his positions and said he was best suited to represent a diverse congressional district. “We’ve got a unique moment to lean into where we can fix not only our health care system, but our society to create fair opportunities,” said Webb, an internal medicine doctor and director of health policy and equity at the University of Virginia. “No matter if you’re in a rural county or an urban environment, no matter your race or ethnicity, your sexual orientation or gender identity, you should have opportunities to succeed in these United States. That’s what the American dream is.”
The Senior Statesmen of Virginia hosted the forum, moderated by Allison Wrabel , a reporter at The Daily Progress in Charlottesville. The election is Nov. 3.
“If he were elected, he would do everything in his power to stop President Trump, or God forbid to enact the Biden-Harris agenda,” Good said about Webb. “If President Trump was not reelected, and make no mistake about it, my opponent would vote in lockstep with Nancy Pelosi, Jerry Nadler, Adam Schiff and AOC [Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez]. He and I have a very different view of the future of America and the direction of our country.”
The 5th Congressional District is an open seat this year after Good unseated incumbent Rep. Denver Riggleman, R-Nelson, in a drive-thru convention a few months ago. The district — the largest geographically in the state — spans from Southside up to the edge of the Northern Virginia suburbs and includes Franklin County and much of Bedford County.
Good has spent this week traveling around the district holding rallies in support of law enforcement, replicating the law-and-order message Trump is using following unrest in cities across the country amid protests over police brutality. Good said he would support making it a hate crime to assault a police officer and increasing funding for police while saying Webb would take funding away from police.
Webb said he doesn’t support “defunding the police, but funding the police appropriately.” Webb rolled out a new TV ad this week that includes endorsements from multiple longtime members of law enforcement across the district backing Webb’s candidacy. It includes an appearance from former Campbell County Sheriff Steve Hutcherson, who led the department while Good served as a supervisor.
“These attacks against Dr. Webb are just lies,” Hutcherson says in the ad. “That’s the reason why sheriffs across this district have endorsed my campaign, even two from Campbell County, Mr. Good, who know you very well, and they think that I’ll be better on supporting police than you,” Webb told Good at the forum.
Webb said he supports a public health insurance option and said Good is “a little bit behind” his own party by continuing to campaign on repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act. Good knocked Webb’s work on health care policy in the Obama and Trump administrations by saying costs are still high and quality hasn’t improved as promised.
Good favors letting the free market drive health care and criticized Gov. Ralph Northam, a physician, for vetoing a bill this year that intended to expand access to health insurance because it would have undermined the ACA. “We know what happens when you put a doctor in charge of government,” Good said.
Good said he would support Trump’s policies that have contributed to “energy independence, where we no longer depend on foreign hostile nations.” While the United States is the world’s largest producer of natural gas, oil and petroleum, in 2019, nearly half the oil consumed by the United States was imported, according to the Energy Information Administration. Good said environmental policies Democrats support would “surrender our energy independence.”
Webb said he doesn’t support the Green New Deal, but the country needs to move toward reducing its carbon emissions in order to preserve the environment. Good said people should not “be fooled by the bipartisan moderate rhetoric” from Webb. “The choice could not be more clear,” Good said. “My opponent is aligned with the radical socialist left that’s become much of the Democratic Party.”
Webb replied that “it’s not an act.”
“At the end of the day, what this campaign is about is lifting voices all across the district, hearing people who don’t look like you or didn’t grow up where you grew up, or haven’t had the same life experiences, but they matter so much,” he said.