Hours after Rep. Tom Garrett (R-Va.) made the surprise announcement that he will not seek reelection in central Virginia, potential candidates began jockeying to replace him and one officially entered the race.
Denver Riggleman, a former Air Force intelligence officer and distillery owner who ran a short-lived campaign for governor last year, said he is seeking the Republican nomination to help pass President Trump’s agenda in Congress.
“As we have all seen over the past few years, it takes a real outsider with real world experience to drag the swamp monsters to dry land,” he said in a statement. “As a veteran and small business owner, I am perfectly suited for that task.”
Riggleman is the first candidate to publicly confirm he will run after Garrett announced his struggle with alcoholism, but there is a long list of other potential candidates, including four from the General Assembly.
Sen. William M. Stanley Jr. (Franklin), Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel (Fauquier), Sen. Bryce E. Reeves (Spotsylvania) and Del. Robert B. Bell (Albemarle) join tech executive Michael Del Rosso and businessman and developer Jim McKelvey as possible contenders.
Members of the Republican Party’s 5th District committee will choose a nominee to face Democrat Leslie Cockburn in November.
Although the district includes liberal enclaves, such as Charlottesville, most voters there are conservative and backed Trump by double digits.
In his 2017 campaign, Riggleman ran as a populist stymied by regulatory roadblocks he and his wife, Christine, encountered as they opened Silverback Distillery outside of Charlottesville.
He also highlighted his battle with Dominion Power, which at one point planned to route a large natural gas pipeline through his property.
Riggleman thanked Garrett for his service.
“Christine and I are sending prayers and best wishes to Tom and his family during this difficult time,” he said. “Tom is a man of courage and a conviction, I look forward to continuing his pristine conservative voting record in D.C.”
Virginia’s 5th district runs from Fauquier County in the north, west to Shenandoah Valley and through Appomattox before unspooling into Southside Virginia along the North Carolina border.