GOP congressman faces primary after officiating same-sex marriage
WASHINGTON – Representative Denver Riggleman, a first-year Republican from Virginia, faces a main challenge that will be decided at a state drive-through convention on Saturday following an outcry among local activists after Mr. Riggleman celebrated a same-sex marriage.
Mr Riggleman, a distillery owner and former Air Force intelligence officer with a libertarian lean, was greeted with a wave of outrage from conservative activists in his district after officiating at the wedding of were two men who had volunteered for his campaign. Several county party committees voted to censor him, and Bob Good, a former county official who was once an employee of Liberty University, threw his name in the race to challenge him from the right, arguing that Mr. Riggleman “betrayed the trust” of the Republicans. in the neighborhood.
The unusual way the primary will be decided just adds to the treacherous political terrain for Mr. Riggleman. In a sprawling congressional district, up to 3,500 party delegates were scheduled to vote on Saturday at a social-distancing driving convention held in Lynchburg, Va., Following state laws that allow party organizations to choose congressional candidates through conventions instead of traditional primary elections.
Mr. Riggleman denounced the establishment, which was decided by a Republican district committee, as “a strange Dairy Queen convention”. And he fiercely defended his decision to officiate the marriage of his two former volunteers.
“The Republican Party, when you look at the credo of protecting civil liberties and religious freedoms, could be the most inclusive party in the country,” Mr. Riggleman said. Politico said in an interview. “Why aren’t we having a big tent party?” Why don’t we look at freedoms first? Why don’t we allow people to live the way they want and stop the government from intervening in every aspect of our lives? “
Mr. Riggleman, whom President Trump approved in December for re-election, raised more than $ 1.3 million, far surpassing his opponent, who raised less than $ 200,000. But that may mean little in that primary competition where Mr. Good, a former athletic official at Liberty University, the evangelical college co-founded by Jerry Falwell Sr., has touted a socially conservative platform.
To further complicate the race, Mr Good, a former Campbell County supervisor, did not properly file the documents to appear on the November general election ballot, creating possible disaster for Republicans if he progressed . The Virginia Republican Party has asked the state electoral council to extend the filing deadline.
The predominantly rural district is the largest in the state, stretching from western Washington to the Virginia-North Carolina border. For some delegates, voting may have taken up to three hours to drive to the Lynchburg church where the convention was being held.
On Saturday, delegates lined up in their cars in front of the church parking lot, with some have been waiting for more than an hour to vote, according to the Roanoke Times.
“Long waits to submit a ballot in Virginia’s fifth congressional district mean that only the most intense voters will end up voting,” said Stephen Farnsworth, professor of political science at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, in Virginia. “This is what a terrible system looks like.