Virginia Republican ousted after officiating at same-sex marriage
WASHINGTON – Rep. Denver Riggleman, a first-year Republican from Virginia, lost a hard-fought primary race decided at an unusual state driving convention, weighed down by outrage from party activists he officiated during of a same-sex marriage.
In a result announced early Sunday, Bob Good, a former Liberty University athletics officer under Jerry Falwell Jr. who describes himself as a “biblical curatorousted Mr Riggleman, a distillery owner and former Air Force intelligence officer with a libertarian streak. Mr Good won 58% of the vote at a convention held on Saturday which was decided by about 2,400 party delegates, according to party officials.
Mr. Riggleman, along with outside observers, denounced the setup – permitted by state laws that allow local party officials choose congressional candidates through conventions instead of traditional primary elections – which has tended to benefit die-hard candidates. Sunday morning, Mr. Riggleman had not conceded.
“Voter fraud has been a hallmark of this nomination process and I will not stand it,” said Mr. Riggleman. wrote on Twitter late Saturday night. The Virginia Republican Party, he continued, “must reassess its priorities. We are evaluating all of our options at this time. “
Mr Riggleman’s campaign had opposed the inclusion of a trove of votes from a specific county delegation, raising concerns over whether a handful of ballots had been cast by eligible delegates. The objections were dismissed by the committee overseeing the convention.
At his victory party early Sunday morning, Mr. Good dismissed Mr. Riggleman’s complaints as “what losers say”. He pledged to continue to focus on “the real conservative principles that we have presented for this campaign, the real contrast that we have shown by emphasizing our Judeo-Christian principles upon which our nation has been. founded ”.
Mr Good’s victory is a welcome outcome for Democrats, who had viewed Mr Riggleman’s seat as potentially competitive in November and had hoped the former Liberty University employee, who had struggled mightily over the past few years months to raise funds, would win out. His appointment may further create a headache for Republicans in Virginia, as Mr. Good failed to properly file the necessary paperwork to be on the ballot in the November general election. The Virginia Republican Party has asked the State Election Council to extend the filing deadline.
Holding a convention rather than a primary election made it much more difficult for voters in the sprawling, predominantly rural district to weigh in on the contest. Voters had to mail or physically hand over documents and go through a vetting process to become delegates, then travel to the convention venue, which was located in the county where Mr. Good previously served as supervisor. For some delegates in the district, which is larger than New Jersey, voting may have taken up to three hours to drive to the Lynchburg church where the convention was being held.
Such a setup was expected to favor Mr Good and attract far-right party loyalists to the district. The same Virginia set of rules have been used before by the Republican Party to favor Tory candidates, including in 2012, when Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, now Acting Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security, won the nomination of his party for governor after his the opponent concluded that it would not be viable among the convention delegates.
Mr Riggleman, who has been backed by President Trump and a member of the arch-conservative Freedom Caucus, has nonetheless been criticized by conservative activists in the district after serving at the summer wedding of two of his former campaign volunteers , Alex Pisciarino and Anthony “Rek” LeCounte. Mr Good said Mr Riggleman had “betrayed the trust” of Republicans in the district and was out of step with the party base. Mr. Riggleman fiercely defended his decision to officiate the marriage, making it a matter of individual and personal freedom.
“It saddens me that the decision made by this small group of delegates is seen as a sign that Republicans as a whole are not inclusive and do not accept all kinds of different people, especially LGBTQ people,” M said. Pisciarino in a press release. maintenance. “It unfairly casts a shadow on the message we wanted to send when discussing the wedding in July.”
Mr LeCounte said he and Mr Pisciarino spoke with Mr Riggleman after the election results were announced and thanked the congressman and his family for their support.
“At the end of the day, they will always be our friends, we will always love them,” Mr. LeCounte said. “We will always be grateful that leaders like them stood up and showed real courage in the face of truly hateful people and a hateful process.”