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House Freedom Caucus privately mulls Good’s future — and potential replacement

Rep. Bob Good aimed to overhaul the House Freedom Caucus, making it into a more assertive body within the Republican Conference. But that could come to a roaring halt Tuesday if he formally loses his Virginia primary.

Instead, discussions will shift to whether he can stay atop the group until the end of the year, when he would leave Congress — and if not, who could replace him. Those muted conversations are already taking place privately among GOP aides and members, according to four people familiar with the discussions.

Unless he makes up more than a 300-vote deficit in a recount against primary challenger John McGuire, Good would become the first Freedom Caucus chair to lose his seat, putting the ultra-conservative group in uncharted territory. There’s no rule within its bylaws that the Virginian, who is vowing to request a recount, would need to step down as chair, and he is viewed as having support from the Freedom Caucus board responsible for making recommendations to the larger membership.

At the same time, some said it will be untenable for the group to spearhead discussions about fiscal spending next year when the chair won’t even be there. And it doesn’t help that Donald Trump is doing a victory lap over his efforts to oust Good, adding to the Freedom Caucus’ embarrassment.

Good has rankled high-profile members of the group, including co-founder Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio).

Under Good’s leadership, the group began discussing changes to prevent committee chairs from having a vote within the bloc. That would specifically target Jordan, who is chair of the House Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Mark Green (R-Tenn.), who leads the House Homeland Security Committee.

“There was talk of changing the bylaws,” Jordan confirmed to POLITICO last month.

When asked whether he believed that was aimed at him, he more broadly responded: “There was a discussion” but changes on that front haven’t been made yet.

“The change they were proposing would obviously impact Mr. Green and myself,” he added.

Allies of Jordan viewed it as much more cut-and-dried: Good was making a move to undercut Jordan, a member allied with former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, whom Good helped to oust.

A spokesperson for the group, in response to questions about a potential leadership shakeup, said “HFC does not comment on membership or internal processes.”

Good has played hardball with other Freedom Caucus members as well, overseeing the removal of at least two because of poor attendance. And the current effort to kick out Rep. Warren Davidson (R-Ohio) over his endorsement of Good’s primary challenger has frustrated some corners of the Freedom Caucus. Good isn’t spearheading that effort, but an ally is.

Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.), asked if Good’s loss would impact his role as chair, stopped short of ruling out the possibility, instead noting the Virginia vote count has to first be finalized before the group can have follow-up discussions.

“First of all you’ve got to figure out his race. … You can’t really talk about that until you figure out [his race],” Donalds said.

Donalds is a name some have floated as a potential replacement. But some question his viability, given wide speculation Donalds is interested in running for governor of Florida in 2026, when Gov. Ron DeSantis is termed out. Plus, he isn’t a member of the board — and currently, whoever is picked to be the next chair also needs to be a member of the board.

Another name that crops up: Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas). Some have expressed concerns Roy will have the similar issue Good had, however: He crossed Trump by backing DeSantis in the Republican presidential primary.

Freedom Caucus members have also pointed to Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.), who is viewed as being close to Good, as someone interested in eventually leading the group.

Questions about Good’s fate come as the Freedom Caucus board is reviewing Davidson’s standing within the group. Currently, the board is weighing finding that Davidson is a member not in “good standing”— which would lower the threshold for removing him from 80 percent to 50 percent. But that designation is typically reserved for Freedom Caucus members who either haven’t paid dues or aren’t regularly attending meetings.

Freedom Caucus members are discussing changing their bylaws to include a rule against endorsing the primary opponent of another HFC member, according to two people familiar with the discussion. Davidson’s endorsement of McGuire struck a nerve with a swath of the Freedom Caucus who viewed it as an unprecedented step that underscored a need for change within the group’s dynamics.

Asked about endorsing a primary challenger of another HFC member, Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) said lawmakers are “free agents.”

“Everybody makes their own decision,” Norman said in a brief interview. “I don’t like it when they endorse against Freedom Caucus.”

Davidson has defended his endorsement, saying it was a referendum on Good, not on the conservative caucus. Davidson and Good have a history of bad blood, with the former stepping down from the group’s board when the latter became chair.

And while Good isn’t officially spearheading the push against the Ohio Republican, the effort to oust Davidson from the group has sparked private questions and public opposition among members over how he can be kicked out when technically his endorsement didn’t break the group’s rules.

“I don’t think that should happen. I’ve not been for kicking anybody out of the Freedom Caucus,” Jordan said, noting that he also voted against ousting Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) last year.

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