Andy Parker, father of reporter killed during live TV broadcast, to run for Congress

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Andy Parker, the father of a journalist who was killed during a live TV report in 2015, is running for Congress in south-central Virginia. Parker is a Democrat running in Virginia’s 5th district against Republican freshman Congressman Bob Good, who he called the “Marjorie Taylor Greene of Virginia.”

“This district is not being represented the way it should be,” Parker told CBS News before his launch. “Since Alison was killed, I’ve always tried to honor her life through action. Given the atmosphere we face right now, this is the time to jump in and make a difference.”

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Parker’s daughter Alison was a TV reporter at CBS Roanoke affiliate WDBJ-TV who was shot and killed, alongside cameraman Adam Ward, by an ex-coworker in 2015. 

Parker, a former member of the Henry County Board of Supervisors, has been an advocate for gun rights reform since his daughter’s killing. But after failing to get Facebook and other social media to take down video of his daughter’s killing, he has been vocal about reforming Section 230, a law that protects social media companies from lawsuits over content on their platforms. 

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Andy Parker, father of reporter killed during live TV broadcast, to run for Congress
© Provided by CBS News Andy Parker and his daughter, Alison. / Credit: Courtsey of Andy Parker

He said he has reached his limit as a private citizen to push for social media reform, and saw an opportunity to “champion this as a member of Congress.” Parker previously testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the issue, and notes attempts that push reforms in the right direction, but said “it doesn’t go far enough.”

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“It’s tough for anybody, for one out of four hundred plus members to do anything. But I think I’ve got a better chance at pushing that issue,” he said, adding that it’s an issue that has bipartisan support in Congress. 

He added that Good has helped the spread of misinformation allowed on social media.,Since being elected to Congress in 2020, Good has established himself as a hard-line House Republican. He voted against the electoral certification on January 6 and bipartisan infrastructure bill, and has spread misinformation about mask and vaccine mandates.  

Good launched his reelection campaign on January 3, and held a fundraiser on the one-year anniversary of the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol that featured state Senator Amanda Chase, a former Republican gubernatorial candidate who has been called “Trump in heels.”

In a statement, Good says he’s done “what I said I would do when first running for Congress in 2020, and have been on the front line fighting for our nation’s founding principles and against the Democrats’ radical leftist agenda.” 

He added that he’s introduced bills against the “unconstitutional mandates, open borders, runaway federal spending and efforts to indoctrinate our kids at school against the will of parents.”

“When he’s not wasting time to try and overturn lawful elections and opposing repairs for roads and bridges, he busies himself pushing dangerous vaccine conspiracy theories and divisive and extreme politics,” Parker said, adding that Good’s rhetoric and votes in Congress was “one giant” reason to do this. 

In 2020, Good upset incumbent Republican Denver Riggleman in a controversial “drive-thru” convention. In November 2020, Good won by 5 points over Democrat Cameron Webb. Virginia’s 5th district had minor changes during the redistricting process, but still leans towards Republicans by about 8 points. 

Good is facing a challenge from the right from veteran Dan Moy, as well as two other Democratic opponents: lawyer Jack Lewis Jr. Combs and small-business owner Joshua Thorneburg. Both Combs and Thorneburg have cash on hand balances of over $150,000, while Good has $313,734 cash on hand according to the last Federal Election Commission report. 

Parker, and other Democrats running in Republican-leaning seats like Virginia’s 5th, are facing a political environment that favors Republicans. A CBS News poll earlier this month showed a 56% disapproval rating for President Biden. A total of 29 House Democrats have decided to retire or run for another office.

A self-described “Reagan Republican” who voted Republican until 2008, Parker describes himself as a Democrat that’d work in a bipartisan manner with any “reasonable Republicans” and can build on Webb’s single digit loss. 

“I just feel there’s a lot of buyer’s remorse out there,” he added. 

His campaign team includes a former media consultant for former President Obama’s presidential campaigns and a campaign manager for Democrat John Kerry’s unsuccessful 2004 presidential bid. Chris Hurst, the boyfriend of Parker’s late daughter and former Virginia state representative, is also helping run the campaign.

For Parker, Hurst’s involvement is another way his daughter’s death is connected to his campaign. He said he is “absolutely prepared” for her killing to be brought up on the campaign, either by him or opponents.

“Nothing that they can do or say compares to losing your child, to losing your hopes and dreams,” he said. “There’s no candidate that I’m aware of running for Congress that has a running mate. Well, I do. And she’s going to be with me every step of the way.”

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