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Should Denver Riggleman Run for Governor as a Libertarian?

Why the LP should reach out to the Congressman? Ballot Access!

I heard the other day that Denver Riggleman, who is STILL a congressman although he will not be on your ballot in 2020 thanks to a silly intra-party fight.

For the record: Sanders at this blog endorsed Riggleman. I also have reached out to him with consideration of helping him out. I also suggested the Libertarian Party ought to recruit him.


The LP needs a breakout candidate without sacrificing its integrity. Riggleman is a candidate who in a three way race could win. He was actually criticized by his opponent of being (Gasp!) libertarian!

“What does Denver stand for?” Good said in a radio debate between the two candidates last month. “What conservative Republican issue is he strong on? What can you point to? He’s out of step with the base of the party on life. He’s out of step on marriage. He’s out of step on immigration. He’s out of step on health care, on climate, on drug legalization.”

Here’s a interesting Riggleman quote:

“The Republican Party, when you look at the creed to protect civil liberties and religious liberties, could be the most inclusive party in the country,” Riggleman said in an interview. “And you know, why aren’t we a big-tent party? Why aren’t we looking at liberties first? Why aren’t we allowing people to live the way they want to live and stopping the government from reaching into every aspect of our lives?”

I did a brief look at Riggleman’s voting record and I would not say he’s a flaming libertarian. Seems to be middle of the road GOP.

But sometimes a third party has to seek out and embrace the best ways to help itself – without sacrificing principle. Maybe this is such a time.

Normally the Sandy position to the LP is: Run your strongest candidate for Lieutenant Governor. It is the easiest of the three to take the smallest amount of campaign money and get that elusive 10%. But maybe Sandy’s wrxxx (a nod to the scene in Happy Days where the Fonz tries to admit he’s wrong and the word just can’t come out!) this time…

I also think (and I am not speaking for him) Riggleman could get all sort sof time on the John Fredericks network of stations which covers most of the Commonwealth. I could see Fredericks going all out for Riggleman due to his opposition to “rigged” conventions and his moderate position on social issues.

Finally, if the LP could land Denver, the off year election could create – if the Libertarians around the country would sacrificially give to the Riggleman campaign – a BIG if – a decent source of money. Maybe millions.

Even if Riggleman did not win, he should be likely to win ballot access for the LP for several succeeding election cycles. Still need better laws in the Commonwealth to open up the political system. But if you have say former governor Terry McAuliffe v. state senator Amanda Chase (or state senator Emmitt Hanger, seen by many activists as a RINO) v. former congressman Denver Riggleman – that would be “get out the popcorn” election for me. Suburban moms might vote Riggleman, especially if he comes out for reform of the domestic relations laws. GOP activists if Hanger is nominated might get behind Riggleman.

What about former House Speaker Kirk Cox, Sandy? Well, he’ll have the establishment behind him. And I do not know Del. Cox – never met him as far as I know. But I am afraid he will be associated with defeat not victory. He was Speaker when the GOP lost the House. He’ll have to remake himself. Some activists might still back Riggleman.

I would pray about it but I think I would support Denver – if he’ll have me.

PS: One more thing: There once was a Congressman who got redistricted out of his seat by the other party after one term. He didn’t get mad; he got even: George Allen was elected Virginia Governor in 1993.

About Elwood Sanders

Elwood "Sandy" Sanders is a Hanover attorney who is an Appellate Procedure Consultant for Lantagne Legal Printing and has written ten scholarly legal articles. Sandy was also Virginia's first Appellate Defender and also helped bring curling in VA! (None of these titles imply any endorsement of Sanders’ views)

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Tom White Says:

Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

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