Editorial Page
Republicans Should Nominate Denver Riggleman If They Want To Keep The 5th

If the 5th District Republicans want to keep the seat in the House, sending an incumbent into November makes a difference.

Take a look at the House reelection rate chart from The Center For Responsive Politics, which says " Few things in life are more predictable than the chances of an incumbent member of the U.S. House of Representatives winning reelection."

"With wide name recognition, and usually an insurmountable advantage in campaign cash, House incumbents typically have little trouble holding onto their seats," the Center says.

And consider this from University of Mary Washington Professor Stephen Farnsworth, one of Virginia's leading political experts: “The district is drawn to give a Republican a large advantage, but Democrats would certainly prefer to run against a non-incumbent.” 

On another front -- the one that drew the ire of many conservatives who will be delegates at the convention -- we should be proud of Denver Riggleman for officiating at a gay wedding, not punish him.

Among other things, it tells us he has the capability of not voting by wind direction.

And do we really want to be known as the place that got rid of our congressman because he married two people who love each other?

Especially now?

Meanwhile, Riggleman has the clear endorsement of the President and his son, Donald Jr.

In a video-taped endorsement just put out, Don Jr. said “Denver has been fighting in the trenches with my father, President Donald Trump, since day one. My father needs his voice supporting him in Congress and voting for his agenda.”

Trump said Riggleman “supports our shared conservative values” in that “he’s strong on immigration, the Second Amendment and pro-life issues. I am glad to add my name next to my father’s on the list of strong conservatives who support Denver.”

That is The White House speaking.

When the 5th needs something from Washington, do you think this might help, or not?

Just for starters, think about how much impact Washington has on our wine, agriculture, horse racing and tourism industries.

Also, Riggleman is a freshman who replaced freshman Republican Congressman Tom Garrett. If he loses the nomination next week, the seniority of the 5th goes back to square one no matter who gets it or who wins in November.

To put a point on this, the Republican leadership in the House put Riggleman on the new China Task Force launched to deal with the Beijing threat.

"Priority wise, China is the United States’ number one enemy," Riggleman says. "China is something we have to start dealing with now and instead of doing it ad-hoc, we need to go forward and look at it in a strategic way with experts that haven’t just been in the political field, but in the real world."

Riggleman's real world included years in Air Force Intelligence and as a senior consultant at the Pentagon for electronic warfare and countermeasures.

That's why he says his colleagues on the Task Force picked him to co-chair the committee's focus on National Security and Technology.

None of this is to say a single bad word about Bob Good, Riggleman's opponent.

This is all just to say the Democrats in the 5th -- who have a whole slate of very smart candidates -- are hoping Riggleman doesn't get the nomination.

If you're a Republican, what does that tell you?

Especially if those are trend lines down there in the charts.
Virginia’s fifth congressional district  is the state's largest district with an  area  of 10,181.03 square miles and is larger in area than six US states ( Vermont New Jersey Rhode Island Connecticut Delaware , and  New Hampshire ).

The 5th District contains counties located in the Piedmont and Blue Ridge Region stretching vertically across the state from the Virginia-North Carolina Border going 250 miles up to Fauquier County in Northern Virginia, West of Washington DC.

The district’s first representative in Congress was  James Madison , who defeated  James Monroe  in the district's first congressional election. Madison and Monroe would go on to serve as the 4th and 5th Presidents of the United States.

Historically, the 5th was one of the first districts of Virginia to turn Republican in Presidential elections – though unlike the 6th where the decisive factor was ticket-splitting by  Byrd Organization  Democrats, here the decisive factor was the growth of middle-class Republicanism in the  Charlottesville metropolitan area .

In the decade preceding  the Voting Rights Act , these were joined by a significant proportion of Virginia’s limited and almost entirely white electorate who preferred GOP positions on  black civil rights .

The district was to be one of two in Virginia giving a plurality to segregationist  George Wallace  in 1968, and has never supported a Democrat for President since  Harry S. Truman .

However, the district was continually represented in Congress by fairly conservative Democrats until  Virgil H. Goode, Jr.  switched parties, first to independent and then to Republican.

In 2008, Democrat  Tom Perriello  defeated Goode by running on a progressive platform. Perriello lost to Republican  Robert Hurt  in 2010.  Robert Hurt  went on to served 3 terms until 2016.

Then Republican  Tom Garrett  went on to serve 1 term until 2018 when he decided not to run for another term due to alcoholism.

Currently, the district is represented by Republican  Denver Riggleman .
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