Sunday, March 5, 2017

Denver Riggleman: The Establishment’s Worst Nightmare

Denver Riggleman: The Establishment’s Worst Nightmare

Denver Riggleman is highly motivated - some might even say angry - and with good reason.  Riggleman is running for the GOP nomination for Governor of Virginia and I recently had the opportunity to hear him speak at my local GOP Committee meeting and I could tell, his heart is in it.  I don’t mean to draw a slew of contrasts between Riggleman and would-be “anti-establishment” gubernatorial candidate Corey Stewart, but I will, only because in my estimation, they’re going after the same voters.  But they’re doing it in very different ways. Riggleman isn’t thoughtless, as Stewart appears to be.  Riggleman isn’t abrasive, as Stewart is.  Riggleman is believable and doesn’t grandstand, as Stewart does.  And that’s just a few of the many differences between the two.

Riggleman, a former intelligence officer and current owner of Silverback Distillery in Nelson County, VA, has a very simple message to help garner support:  Stop the cronyism in government.  Stop the influence of special interests and big lobbyists from impacting the everyday lives of Virginians.  He has a personal tale detailing why he got into the race for Governor, in which he pulls no punches against crony capitalism and his favorite punching bag, Dominion Virginia Power.  His frustration as a business owner and land owner is palpable when you hear him speak about it.  Unlike Stewart who ostensibly watches videos of Donald Trump and tries to emulate him, Riggleman is sincere, earnest and motivated to change the pay-to-play system in Richmond. 

The biggest problem with Riggleman’s message is even though the issues he talks about affect many, many Virginians (regardless of political affiliation), most of those Virginians either don’t know or don’t care how it affects them.  The blue counties of Northern Virginia, which unfortunately blow Virginia’s political winds way too strongly, care more about what bathrooms their self-identified transgendered citizens can use than whether or not the government is taking their land unlawfully.  They care more about refugees & gay rights than property rights.  They don’t care if their local or state government hikes their taxes to pay for entitlement programs because somehow, they’ve determined that’s a core function of government, which is absurd. 

I’ve heard Riggleman give speeches on social media previously and his message is one of liberty and of freedom against government overreach.  This recent talk was no different.  Again, this affects many Virginians, but do they know it?  By contrast, the blowhard Stewart tells conservatives that illegal aliens are taking their jobs.  That’s a message they can sink their teeth into, even though the delivery source is about as unlikable as Hillary Clinton’s rabid dog.  Riggleman needs to either find an issue that every day Virginians can care about and sink their teeth into or find a way to make sure voters know how his government overreach and anti-cronyism message affects them.  The challenge is, in the age of social media sound bites, that’s a hard message to drive home in 7 – 10 seconds. 

One of the elected officials at the meeting asked the question of Riggleman… What two issues are most important to you in your campaign for Governor?  Riggleman’s answer: Transparency and funding.  No more secret votes in committee in the General Assembly, no more wasteful spending on programs no one can define.  Again, this is a fantastic message for those of us who pay attention… but most voters don’t pay attention.  Having worked at several polling places in a past election, I was awe struck by the number of voters who made up their minds right then and there.  They vote, but it’s an uneducated vote, so pushing forth a policy-heavy message is lost on those voters and even more so when it’s a substantive policy rather than a social policy.

I like Riggleman, obviously much more than wannabe radio talk show host Corey Stewart.  Riggleman has been there and done that.  He’s not a lawyer, which is refreshing.  He’s one of us.  His message is decidedly anti-establishment, but not in an abrasive, Trump/Stewart-esque way.  He seems reasonable and he’s used his personal experience (and money, I’m sure) to try to make a difference for the better for every day Virginians. He recognizes that small business is the engine that drives our economy and for too long, certain large businesses and their lobbies have been padding the pockets of politicians in Richmond to their own benefit.  He relayed to us that when he challenged this practice to some lawmakers in Richmond, he was given the message “that’s just how the game is played”.  Well he correctly calls bullshit on that game and I respect him for that.  The “game” only serves to hurt real people over time and keeps the establishment engine running smoothly in the background.

When I think about for whom I cast my vote and urge my friends and family to vote for, I think about who inspires me with their message.  Who has taken the lemons of their own personal experience and is trying to turn it into lemonade, not just for themselves, but for the betterment of all (or most) of their would-be constituents?  I’ve said for years, don’t tell me what you are, show me what you do.  Riggleman not only has the credentials to speak from experience on his policy points, he’s also genuinely likable.  I haven’t heard Ed Gillespie or Frank Wagner speak in person yet, but so far, I’m a fan of Riggleman.  I would urge more Virginians get to hear his message and start to really think about how the experience he’s had and changes he proposes would affect them.  Because Riggleman could just be the breath of fresh air Virginia needs in the emerging political winds.

Besides, Riggleman was born on St. Patrick's Day.  What better reason do you need to vote for him? :)


UPDATE: March 16, 2017:  Unfortunately Denver Riggleman announced that he is suspending his bid for the 2017 Gubernatorial campaign today.  The Bull Elephant blog shared the information linked here: 

I personally wish Denver the best.

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  1. I heard Riggleman in a video speech and a radio interview. I'm completely sold. It's rare that I agree with any candidate that much.

    1. He's definitely what I would call an "investment" candidate. If you take the time to really invest in his message and listen to not only what he says, but how he says it, I think he can convince a lot of people. It's also interesting to me how the Stewart folks aren't attacking him. I would be they're scared.
      Thanks for reading, Terri!