It seems like every year we are faced with another “crisis” within RPV where another establishment candidate accuses a conservative candidate of corruption surrounding a local party-run process.
Two years ago, Jennifer Brown accused Cynthia Dunbar and then-6th District Chairman, Scott Sayre, of messing with the convention process and of improper 6th District Committee votes. Brown and her supporters even went so far as to file frivolous FEC complaints against the 6th District Committee.
Last year Chris Peace, faced with a looming convention loss, accused Scott Wyatt of corruption as Peace supporters tried to swap out the validly selected convention process in the 97th House District for a firehouse primary Peace thought he could win.
This year it is Denver Riggleman’s turn.
For those of you who don’t know him, Denver Riggleman is the pro- marijuana, pro-gay marriage incumbent that represents the 5th District of Virginia. Riggleman made waves when, after claiming to be a conservative, he officiated a gay wedding for two of his staffers in 2019.
After this stunt several Republican party leaders and constituents reached out to Riggleman to express that he didn’t represent their values. Some committees took votes to rebuke him. Riggleman responded to this criticism from within the party by going on the John Fredericks radio show and calling those who disapproved of his actions “do nothings,” and saying he “didn’t give a rat’s a$$” what they thought.
With behavior like this it was unsurprising that Riggleman drew a primary challenge from the Right.
In November, 2019, Bob Good officially announced he would be running for Congress to oppose Riggleman, stating that the 5th District was “bright red” and “deserved bright red representation.” He has accused Riggleman repeatedly of being a moderate, citing Riggleman’s support of Congressional Democrats in opposing the President’s removal of troops from Syria, his open support of increasing H-1B Visas , and his announcement of joining the Climate Solutions Caucus, who’s “solution” to climate change is a carbon tax.
Last fall the 5th District Committee voted by a nearly 2/3 margin to support a convention as the method of nomination. This would be the first time Denver Riggleman would actually face Republican primary voters. He dropped out of the 2017 Republican Governor’s primary due to lack of support and was selected directly by members of the 5th District Committee when Tom Garrett suddenly resigned in 2018 (Riggleman won that contest by 1 vote after multiple rounds of voting).
For months now candidates and campaigns have been diligently signing up people to be delegates to the 5th District Convention. Unit Committees in the 5th District have issued calls for mass meetings, inviting people to be delegates as well. Due to the lock-downs some mass meetings had to be cancelled and all individuals in those counties that signed up to be delegates were deemed to be elected.
Now that the process has been completed with around 3500 certified delegates ready to vote and the only thing left to do is hold the convention, Riggleman and his campaign are crying foul.
The Riggleman campaign threatened to sue the 5th District Committee about a month ago to force a primary instead of a convention due to COVID-19. He essentially argues that, because Governor Northam has prevented large gatherings of people, he must now be given an open primary instead of a convention as his method of nomination.
Because new RPV rules were passed that prevent changing the method of nomination once it has been selected by a unit or district committee (which I’ll call “the Peace Amendments”), Riggleman will have to sue the Party to get the open primary he wants. He named the 5th District Committee, as well as the Republican Party of Virginia, in the proposed suit, but offered to take the 5th District Committee out of the list of defendants if they would join his suit.
This proposal angered supporters of the convention process and a number of delegates informed the 5th District Committee that they would file a counter-suit to force the Committee to do what it originally voted for and hold the convention. The 5th District voted in April to reject the lawsuit and move forward with the convention.
Unwilling to take ‘no’ for an answer, Riggleman and his supporters have filed an appeal of this vote, among other things:
They claim that members of the 5th District Committee that are on Bob Good’s payroll should not have been allowed to vote, even though RPV only requires disclosure of potential conflicts (which they did) and does not have a mechanism for forced recusals.
They are also claiming that the location chosen for the convention favors Bob Good, even though the convention location (Tree of Life Church in Campbell County) is the exact same location chosen two years earlier in 2018 when Tom Garrett was the incumbent Congressman.
For good measure, they are even taking shots at the delegates who threatened to sue if the 5th District Committee decided to try and change the method of nomination, claiming they are a “shadow group” of the Good campaign.
I don’t know about you, but I am getting pretty tired of these last minute, Hail Mary tactics from establishment candidates looking to grab or hold onto power. Denver Riggleman is only challenging the upcoming convention because he knows he is going to lose. He doesn’t want to lose his power so he wants to change the rules of the game to favor him. He accuses his opponents of corruption as he seeks to corrupt the process himself.
The 5th District Committee will meet tonight (May 26th) to hear this appeal. Hopefully they will do the right thing and reject it, and hopefully we will not see Riggleman’s lawsuit move forward.