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GOP congressman loses primary after officiating gay wedding

A freshman Republican congressman who officiated a gay wedding lost his primary in Virginia on Saturday to a former Liberty University official.

Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-Va.) lost to Bob Good in a drive-thru Republican convention Saturday, with results announced in the early hours of Sunday morning, The Associated Press reported.

Good’s campaign manager, Nancy Smith, told the AP the results showed Good winning 58 percent of the vote, according to the AP.

Riggleman officiated the wedding between two campaign aides last summer, engendering the ire of social conservatives in his district. About an hour before the results were announced, he suggested in a tweet that voter fraud had contributed to his loss.

“Voting irregularities and ballot stuffing has been reported in multiple counties in the #VA05. Voter fraud has been a hallmark of this nomination process and I will not stand for it,” Riggleman tweeted Sunday morning. “@VA_GOP needs to reevaluate their priorities. We are evaluating all our options at this time.”

Melvin Adams, chairman of the 5th District Republican Committee in Virginia, said 2,537 of more than 3,500 registered delegates cast votes, the AP noted.

Riggleman won his seat by about 6 points in 2018. The Cook Political Report lists the 5th district slightly more Republican than the national average.

The nominating convention was initially scheduled for April 25 but was delayed due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.

Riggleman had received endorsements from President Trump, Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr., House Freedom Caucus Chairman Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee.

Good, meanwhile, received support from former Rep. Tom Garrett (R-Va.), who preceded Riggleman as the representative for Virginia’s 5th Congressional District, Jonathan Falwell, the pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church, and former Rep. Virgil Goode (R-Va.).

Virginia’s 5th Congressional District is the largest in the state, sprawling from the exurbs of Washington, D.C., down to the North Carolina border. The unconventional drive-thru convention took place at Tree of Life Ministries in Lynchburg, Va.

The Riggleman camp had advocated for a traditional primary instead of a convention amid the pandemic. Late last month, it attempted to appeal the location of the convention due to the close proximity to Good’s home, arguing it was a corrupt process and “pay to play” to allow members of Good’s campaign to vote on the location plans. The appeal was ultimately shot down in a 24-10 vote by the 5th Congressional District Committee, which is made up of local party leaders.

On Friday, questions arose over whether Good would be eligible to be on the general election ballot after a deadline to submit a qualification form was missed. Good’s campaign hand-delivered its forms on Friday, the state board of elections confirmed to The Washington Post, and he said he is confident he will be on the ballot in November.

The state Republican Party sent a letter to the board on Friday urging officials to grant extensions after Good and another candidate, state Del. Nick Freitas (R), who is running in the GOP primary on July 18 in Virginia’s 7th District, missed the deadline.

Officials on the state elections board are slated to meet on July 7, when they are expected to discuss whether they will grant the waivers to allow for the candidates to appear on the general election ballot.

This report was updated at 9:44 a.m.

Tags Bob Good Denver Riggleman Donald Trump Jim Jordan Republican Party of Virginia Tom Garrett Virginia
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