GOP rep: Gary Johnson can win
© Moriah Ratner

Rep. Scott RigellScott RigellSpanberger's GOP challenger raises over .8 million in third quarter Ex-Rep. Scott Taylor to seek old Virginia seat GOP rushes to embrace Trump MORE (R-Va.) says he thinks Libertarian Party nominee Gary JohnsonGary Earl JohnsonNew Mexico lawmakers send recreational marijuana bills to governor Judge throws out murder convictions, releases men jailed for 24 years On The Trail: Making sense of Super Poll Sunday MORE can win the presidency.

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"This may surprise you to hear, but I'm ready to defend the proposition that Gov. Johnson can win," Rigell said Wednesday on CNN.

Rigell, who is retiring at the end of his term, announced earlier this month that he is backing Johnson and snubbing GOP presidential nominee Donald TrumpDonald TrumpGuardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa wins GOP primary in NYC mayor's race Garland dismisses broad review of politicization of DOJ under Trump Schumer vows next steps after 'ridiculous,' 'awful' GOP election bill filibuster MORE.

Rigell noted Wednesday that if Johnson can get enough support in polls to make the debate stage, it could set off a positive chain reaction for him.

"No one saw Trump winning the nomination, at least early on," he said. "And I believe the same type of unusual, real anomalies and the forces that are coming against our country are present now in this election, the general election."

Rigell said Americans are not happy with Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe Memo: Some Democrats worry rising crime will cost them The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Democrats await Manchin decision on voting rights bill Supreme Court battle could wreak havoc with Biden's 2020 agenda MORE as the two major-party options. 

"The level of dissatisfaction with the two nominees is so wide, and it's so intense," he said. "I've never seen anything like it."

He added that he can't vote for Trump "in good conscience" and thinks Clinton is "equally unacceptable." 

"I think it's not going to take votes from simply the Republican ticket, though it will. It's going to take votes from the Democratic ticket," Rigell said of voters flocking to Johnson.

"And I think that there's a pent-up demand that'll surprise a lot of people on Election Day."