A sitting Virginia GOP congressman, who lost his party’s nomination, stunned party leaders and supporters when he told CNN Monday he would consider voting for Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.
CNN Anchor Ana Cabrena: “Would you consider voting for Joe Biden?”
Rep. Denver L. Riggleman III (R.-Va.): “I would consider it. I’m a free-thinking American.”
Riggleman’s announcement that he is now Biden-curious comes after conceding that Trump’s trade and agriculture policies are popular in the district—and after Trump endorsed the congressman in the nomination process.
— The Hill (@thehill) December 18, 2019
State Sen. Amanda Chase is a candidate for the GOP nomination for governor in the 2021 contest said she was shocked to hear Riggleman might vote for the former vice president.
“I am a strong supporter of our president,” she said.
“It’s really easy: there’s two choices on the ballot this November. It’s socialism versus prosperity,” she said.
“President Trump represents freedom,” she said. “Joe Biden represents socialism and Marxism—and fundamental change—any Republican that endorsed a candidate, whose ideology and platform resemble that of the Socialist Party should not be allowed to function as a Republican.”
The same day he told CNN he would consider voting for Biden, Riggleman, who represents Virginia’s Fifth Congressional District, met with Cameron Webb, the Democrat running to succeed him at his family’s distillery. Webb is running against Bob Good, a former athletic director at Liberty University.
Standing with Webb, Riggleman was quoted in the Roanoke Times telling the Democrat: “You’re doing campaigning right, talking about issues and policy, But what do you do when the other person is hiding?”
Very “bless you heart” move in this 5th District race. pic.twitter.com/FYej1WMqEw
— Amy Friedenberger (@AJFriedenberger) October 19, 2020
This follows Riggleman’s interview Thursday with CNN’s Jake Tapper, when he criticized President Donald Trump for retweeted a theory that the 2011 raid that targeted Osama bin Laden in Pakistan used a body double to cover him his escaping from that raid.
In 2018, Riggleman was the beneficiary of the surprise resignation of Republican Rep. Thomas Alexander Garrett Jr. In the limited time available, Riggleman prevailed in a close vote by the members of the GOP’s district committee to secure the nomination and went on to win the seat.
In the 2018 race, Riggleman also had the strong backing of Trump.
“Denver Riggleman of 5th District of Virginia is a popular guy who really knows how to get the job done,” the president said. “He has my Total Endorsement.”
During his freshman term, Riggleman has not voted as conservative as his district, which opened up the opportunity for Good to challenge and beat him for the 2020 nomination.
Richard L. Anderson, the chairman of the Virginia Republican Party, said he was disappointed in Riggleman.
“He, of course, did not win the nomination of the party and what I would hope is for any candidate, including Congressman Riggleman, should they lose, I believe all other Republican candidates in that contest should rally around the eventual nominee,” said the retired Air Force colonel and former state legislator.
“I certainly wish that he had been able to support Bob Good,” he said.
Chase said for nearly a decade the Virginia Republican Party has suffered because of candidates like Riggleman.
“The people chose Bob Good,” she said. “They did not choose Denver Riggleman, and so everyone needs to accept the results and unify behind the Republican nominee—and win. We need to unite and win.”
A house divided will fall, she said. “The Republican Party continues to lose because we don’t unify and get behind our Republican nominees.”
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Neil W. McCabe is a Washington-based national political reporter for The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network. In addition to the Star Newspaper, he has covered the White House, Capitol Hill and national politics for One America News, Breitbart, Human Events and Townhall. Before coming to Washington, he was a staff reporter for Boston’s Catholic paper, The Pilot, and the editor of two Boston-area community papers, The Somerville News and The Alewife. McCabe is a public affairs NCO in the Army Reserve and he deployed for 15 months to Iraq as a combat historian.
Background Photo “Joe Biden” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0.