Republican congressman loses Virginia nomination after role in gay wedding

by Reuters
Sunday, 14 June 2020 14:33 GMT

Representative-elect Denver Riggleman (R-VA) reacts to drawing number 69 during a lottery for office assignments on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., November 30, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

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U.S. Representative Denver Riggleman lost a Republican primary challenge, after criticism for presiding at a gay wedding last year

By Trevor Hunnicutt

June 14 (Reuters) - U.S. Representative Denver Riggleman, who drew criticism from fellow Virginia Republicans after presiding at a gay wedding last year, lost a primary challenge at a nominating convention on Saturday.

Bob Good, a religious conservative and former athletics administrator at Liberty University in Virginia, defeated the congressman by claiming the support of 58% of delegates who attended the convention held in a church parking lot, according to Melvin Adams, chairman of the 5th District's Republican committee.

Riggleman, a first-term congressman endorsed by President Donald Trump, angered some social conservatives when he officiated at the same-sex wedding of two former campaign volunteers last summer. Riggleman defended the wedding as a matter of individual liberty but the backlash helped fuel Good's challenge.

Riggleman was endorsed by Trump in a December tweet that described him as a "true CONSERVATIVE leader" who would back the president's agenda. Good has campaigned as a more ardent supporter of Trump's policies and says Riggleman is out of step with the conservative district.

Virginia Republicans sometimes pick congressional nominees through conventions, which typically encourage participation by party activists, rather than through traditional primary elections.

Because of coronavirus safety concerns, the convention was made an all-day, drive-through vote in the parking lot of a Lynchburg church.

Riggleman, who could not be reached for comment, said on Twitter late Saturday that "voter fraud" was "a hallmark of this nomination process" that he was evaluating his options. Adams said that there were issues with one or two votes but not enough to change the results.

Later this month, Democrats will pick their nominee for the Nov. 3 election in a primary involving four candidates.

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(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)