Republican politician loses party support after officiating gay wedding

Virginia representative was beaten out by hardline right winger

Sunday 14 June 2020 15:31
Denver Riggleman lost the reselection contest for Virginia's 5th congressional district
Denver Riggleman lost the reselection contest for Virginia's 5th congressional district

A Republican congress member who angered social conservatives in his district when he officiated a gay wedding lost his party's nomination.

Virginia representative Denver Riggleman lost a GOP convention on Saturday that was done via drive-thru because of the coronavirus pandemic. He was defeated by Bob Good, a former official in the athletics department at Liberty University.

While the convention ended at 7pm, the vote tally was not announced until after 1am on Sunday. Mr Good said he won 58 per cent of the vote, news outlets reported, and 5th District Republican Committee chair Melvin Adams said 2,537 of the more than 3,500 registered delegates voted.

Mr Riggleman, a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, upset many Republicans in his district last summer when he officiated the wedding of two male campaign aides.

The convention was held at a Lynchburg-area church near Mr Good's home and was the only place delegates could cast a ballot in a district that stretches from northern Virginia to the North Carolina border.

Mr Riggleman has said a small coterie of Republican insiders were trying to rig the contest against him forcing the nomination process to be decided with a convention instead of a primary. Conventions favour more conservative candidates and have been used for years by Virginia Republicans to block moderate Republicans from winning office.

“Voting irregularities and ballot stuffing has been reported in multiple counties in the #VA05. Voter fraud has been a hallmark of this nomination process and I will not stand for it,” Mr Riggleman tweeted a little over an hour before results were announced. “@VA—GOP needs to reevaluate their priorities. We are evaluating all our options at this time.”

Donald Trump endorsed Mr Riggleman, as did Liberty University president Jerry Falwell Jr.

Mr Good is now the Republican nominee for Virginia's 5th Congressional District. Four Democrats are vying to challenge him in the fall, with the winner picked later this summer.

“That's what losers say,” Mr Good told reporters, commenting on Mr Riggleman's allegations of irregularities.

Mr Good has pledged to restore “Judeo-Christian” values to Congress. He is also a hardliner on immigration and wants English to be the official language of the US. His victory could make national Democrats and outside groups more likely to spend money in the district, which easily went for Trump in 2016.

Associated Press

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