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Republican Congressman Denver Riggleman First Year In Congress

Gun Shop
Gun shop in Chesterfield County. (Crixell Matthews / VPM)

Republican Congressman Denver Riggleman represents Virginia’s 5th District.  Riggleman is just finishing his first year in Congress, which began with a government shutdown and ended with impeachment.  We talked with him about impeachment, the new trade deal, Second Amendment Sanctuary and re-election.

Transcript:

Congressman Riggleman voted along party lines against impeachment.

Riggleman:  We’ll vote no on impeachment.  Uh, there are so many reasons, I mean what it really comes down to is when impeachment becomes political  it’s very damaging to the country.

But he says there may be breakthrough.  That as the Democrats realize their mistakes, they will have to cooperate more with the President and with Republicans on legislation that has been backed up.

Riggleman:  It’s them trying to cover up an impeachment vote that is going to be very damaging for them.  And it’s a huge victory for the American people this week on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement and some other incredible things that are happening.  So I think we need to be optimistic going into next year and not pessimistic.

And he says, it started with the bi-partisan trade agreement with Mexico and Canada.

Riggleman:  The President knew this would be a win for the economies in agricultural districts, districts everywhere.  The USMCA just doesn’t cover things that are important to the 5th, like dairy, which is Class 6, Class 7, agricultural products.  But it also starts this incredible, sort of regime of IP protections or intellectual property protections, but also digital rights.  This is a technological agreement also that looks to the future.  I think when you combine that, I mean that is the New America, right?  It’s advanced manufacturing.  It’s combining agriculture with technology.  There are so many great things in this.  I mean, it’s not perfect, but we can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.  So, I don’t think this is a win for the President, completely, I think this is a win for the people of the United States and the fact that they are doing it now, after a year?  Thank goodness it is getting done, but it should have been done months ago.  And that’s the frustrating part about being a new Congressman, is seeing the inability of people to get over their political tribalism at times.

The fifth district has it all.  From the North Carolina border to the Washington suburbs, from bright red to bright blue.

Riggleman:  Even if its purple and the fact that we did it in an off-year election last year, gives me hope that people can see independence when someone is voting.  But yes, I am a Jeffersonian Conservative, I have never shied away from that and I was elected that way.  But looking at how I did in the general election last year and winning in an open seat in a competitive district pretty handily. This was never my career, this was my first elected office as you know, Charles, and if I win, fantastic, I am able to serve the people, but if I lose, that’s ok, too, because this is what we are supposed to do.  You know, it is the battlefield of ideas and if people want to do this and they want to go against me, you have every right to do so.

There are some Republicans in the fifth who say he isn’t conservative enough, including Bob Good, a Liberty University member of the Athletic department who will challenge him in the Republican convention.  He criticizes, among other things, that Riggleman presided over a same-sex marriage ceremony in July.

Riggleman:  Sure.  Two Republicans helped me out on my campaign, asked me to marry them, and I said yes.  I mean, I would have been a coward if I didn’t.  The Republican Party is the party of Lincoln, or the party of individual liberty.  But there are three things I think Republicans have always held dear, and that’s really the government staying out of your pocketbooks, out of your business and out of your bedroom.  I am a firm believer in that.  As far as not being Republican enough, I am a Trump co-chair, honorary co-chair for his re-election.  I also have a hundred Heritage score, I mean, I can go on, I really don’t care too much about scores, but to say that is really disingenuous and probably just is a lack of knowledge on the issues.

One issue that has captured headlines as the year comes to an end is the Second Amendment Sanctuary resolution that has been adopted by half the localities in his district.  He says he supports it and does not believe it encourages civil disobedience.

Riggleman:  Naw, it’s symbolic of what the people are saying.  They are using their First Amendment rights to protect their Second Amendment rights.  The fact is, that elections have consequences. And if we don’t get together, Charles and fight, really, the battlefield of ideas, we’re going to lose this Commonwealth.  So, you don’t have people saying they are going to run around and hurt people.  You have people saying, “Listen, you can’t encroach on our Second Amendment rights as law-abiding citizens.”  That’s what they are saying. And I agree with them

Fishburne:  Y   ou want to send a message to Richmond and apparently it has spread dramatically.  Ninety-three jurisdictions last count, I saw, about 40% of the population.  Is this single issue something that can rejuvenate the Republican Party?

Riggleman:  Sometimes it can.  And I am telling you this.  Something like taking away your Second Amendment rights could be a symptom, really, of the government encroachment sickness that the far left and liberals want to bring into our Commonwealth.  And let me tell you, the Second Amendment is tax burden on companies, it’s telling people what they can and can’t tell their children, it’s talking about taking away Second Amendment rights and conscience protections.  Things are getting a little bit out of control for Constitutional and individual liberties.  And if we don’t always air on the side of liberty, we will certainly compromise our way out of any type of…really any type of freedom that we have.

Fishburne:  Participants tend to be vocal and defiant, sometimes.  Is this the new politics, inspired, perhaps, by the President himself?

Riggleman:  Oh, I think this started…you know, what is it, the Billy Joel song, “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” (laughs).  So, this fire has been burning since the beginning of our Republic and the compromise that brought about the Constitution.  I mean, this is what it is, this is America and with freedom comes a little bit of chaos.  And I anybody accepts that, who values freedom…you know, just values freedom over always erring on the side of safety and security.  Of course the government has their responsibility.  We want an efficient government and the founders wouldn’t have wanted a constitution if they didn’t think we should have a government. Of course, everybody wants a good and efficient government.  What they don’t want is a government that is completely overwhelming…the First, Second, Third, Fourth, Tenth, Fourteenth Amendment rights, they are just not going to stand for that and I have people say, “Oh, my gosh, this is just the worst time.”  No it’s not.  We’ve had the Civil War, the Civil Rights movement in the 60’s, we’ve had Vietnam, we have had so many awful things that have happened, with so much contention.  Right now, we have 3.5% unemployment, one of the best economies we have had in a long time. People are going to work.  Rejuvenating Southside, which is pretty incredible to me.  We have really good things that are going on.  The fact that is really odd about this, is that when we do have things that are going well, it seems that those people who want power, who want to do things other ways, want to cause a lot of problems with emotion and really, political tribalism.  And that’s something we need to get away from.   And something that I want to do is to be practical in my thinking, be conservative when I look at the constitution, but to be able to compromise with integrity and we don’t want the perfect to be the enemy of the good.  And I think that people are looking people that have served in business and military rather than politicians and I think that’s why I am in a good place right now.

Congressman Denver Riggleman, a Republican, from Virginia’s Fifth District.  Charles Fishburne, VPM News.