Denver Riggleman, the Republican nominee for Virginia’s Fifth Congressional District, is a Libertarian-leaning business man who owns Silverback Distillery in Afton near Charlottesville, who represents a growing trend of non-politicians seeking office. He says this notion plays to his advantage going into the midterm election season.
“I’m not a politician and I think voters will respond to that,” he said in a report from the Daily Progress. “I’m a business owner with military experience and a lot of knowledge about regulatory structure.”
Riggleman walked on to the political scene during his 2017 gubernatorial campaign. The movement, dubbed the “Whiskey Rebellion,” gained statewide attention although it only lasted four months. He stayed active in Virginia politics by lobbying in favor for regulatory reform on state distilleries.
Senate Bill 803, sponsored by Senator Bryce Reeves (R-Spotsylvania), would have allowed Virginia distilleries to keep the markup for products sold on their sites that never move through the state fulfillment system. Although the bill failed to be passed into law, Riggleman’s enthusiastic support of the measure shows his Libertarian nature, marking a difference between him and other traditional Republican candidates.
As a business owner, he also believes in fewer regulations and taxes on businesses and aims to increase transparency in the political system. Riggleman explained that his political views are based in a mixture of the blue-collar and Christian values he was raised on, something which he aims to bring to Washington.
“[I am] going to do everything within what my belief system dictates, though I am willing to listen a change within that framework,” he said. “I will represent the 5th District, but I also have to represent my own principles.”
If elected, Riggleman has said that he will join the conservative House Freedom Caucus, of which Congressman Tom Garrett, who is not running for re-election in the district, is a member. Riggleman said he is not a fan of joining groups “where your vote can be coerced,” and that the Freedom Caucus is far from the “typical Washington” caucuses.
Riggleman faces former journalist and liberal filmmaker Leslie Cockburn in the November election for the seat in Congress.