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Ex-Republican Congressman Riggleman Appears in Ad Supporting Spanberger

Former Republican Congressman Denver Riggleman of Virginia to Run for Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D) in her competitive reelection bid for Virginia’s 7th district. new TV ad urging voters to support Congresswoman for her willingness to work across the aisle.

“This is not your typical political ad,” Riggleman says in the opening frame. “I’m a Republican congressman who says nice things about a Democrat.”

Indeed, it is quite unusual for a former Republican congressman to campaign for an incumbent Democrat, a la Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) supporting Democrats in Arizona over election-refusing Republican candidates for governor and Secretary of State. But Riggleman is quite unusual for being part of the Republicans’ vocal minority to cut ties with the GOP over former President Donald Trump’s stolen lies, telling The Washington Post in interviews last year that he no longer identified as a Republican. Riggleman had also railed against what he called GOP purity tests that he said didn’t fit.

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“In Congress, the parties sit separately and don’t work together — except for Abigail Spanberger,” Riggleman says in the ad, pointing to a bipartisan index that ranks Spanberger as the fifth most bipartisan member of Congress. “She’s trying to change Congress and make it work.”

the advertisement – buy more than half a million dollars in the Washington and Charlottesville markets, according to Spanberger’s campaignseems aimed at the independent or swinging voters in the district, as Spanberger reaches the final leg of the race against Prince William (R) member of Prince William’s Board of County Supervisors, Yesli Vega (R). The race is by far the most expensive campaign in Virginia, totaling more than $18 million to date. Anchored in Prince William’s populous east, the district is one of President Biden’s and Governor Glenn Youngkin’s (R’s) winners’ winners, making it one of the most contentious races in Virginia this year. The ad will run through most of October, the campaign said.

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In an interview, Riggleman said he had decided to cut the ad for Spanberger because he was unable to provide support for “fact-challenged individuals” running for the office.

He pointed to comments Vega made during this spring’s Republican primaries that cast doubt on the 2020 election, and her acceptance of an endorsementt of Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, a GOP activist and the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who is still under investigation by the House Committee investigating the January 6, 2021 attack on the United States Capitol for her efforts to undo the 2020 elections. Riggleman, who has a background in detecting disinformation, served as an adviser to the Jan. 6 committee, although he recently turned committee members upside down after publishing a book about his work before the committee’s investigation ended and the committee did not had given permission.

“If you’re afraid to come out and say that President Biden was elected legally and fairly, I can’t support that kind of ridiculousness in any way,” he said.

Riggleman referenced comments Vega made on an April 20 candidates forum, saying “there is evidence still coming out indicating that the 2020 election was disrupted,” according to a recording obtained by VPM. She said she wouldn’t say the election was “stolen”, adding that she didn’t want to speculate and needed more evidence. Still, Riggleman argued that saying the election was “prevented” is “coded language for everyone on the stop-the-steal bus.”

A Vega spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment on this article. But during a recent interview with The Post, when asked if she acknowledged that President Biden was legitimately elected, Vega said, “He’s the President of the United States.” She wouldn’t answer yes or no when pressed, taking the question as something she said didn’t matter to voters in her district, noting that January 6 was a long time ago. She later reiterated that Biden is president, adding that “the American people have elected him.”

“I’m not Donald Trump, I don’t know what’s going on in his head, and I can’t speak to what he said,” she said when asked about Trump’s false claims about voter fraud. “You can call him and ask him about those comments, but I’m not going there because he has nothing to do with this race, and I have yet to talk to voters who are concerned about that.”

Despite consulting the most conservative members of Congress in the House Freedom Caucus, the libertarian-leaning Riggleman often worked across the aisle with Spanberger on things like expanding broadband in rural areas. The two enjoyed a friendly rapport, tied to a shared counter-terrorism background.

They served in Congress as Virginia Republicans. Now they have joined a national effort to reform the party.

Riggleman was defeated by Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.) in a controversial 2020 GOP nomination convention after upsetting right-wing religious conservative activists for leading same-sex marriage. He then emerged as a leading Trump critic within the GOP, angering party officials after taunting the former president for flirting with QAnon conspiracy theories weeks before the 2020 election, and then sounded alarm bells have been spreading about the false claims of voter fraud Trump and his GOP colleagues.

“I think tribal politics is the worst we can have,” he said Friday. “I think that’s another reason for Abby [Spanberger]is that she’s bipartisan – she definitely wants to help the people in her district, whether they’re Republican or Democrat, and that’s a special quality to have.”

Riggleman’s successor, Good, who also falsely claimed the election was stolen, has endorsed Vega. In June he said: she would “put America first” and call her a “true fighter that I want to serve alongside me in Congress, fighting the establishment and for our real conservative principles.” Multiple members of the House Freedom Caucus supported Vega, and the political arm says she will join the caucus if elected.

Spanberger said in a statement she was “proud to be ranked as the most bipartisan congressman from Virginia — because the people I represent expect me to get results, not bleachers.”

“This commitment to progress is in stark contrast to my opponent — who has pledged to join the hyper-partisan Freedom Caucus, pledge to shut down the federal government, and defend the insurgents who attacked the U.S. Capitol and law enforcement officers on January 6, 2021,” said Spanberger.

Vega had indicated in an interview with conservative radio host John Fredericks that she was open to government shutdown, but when asked by The Post about the circumstances in which she would consider a shutdown, she said she would not speculate.

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