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Virginia Rep. Riggleman, Who Officiated Same-Sex Wedding, Loses Republican Primary

Republican Rep. Denver Riggleman, who received blowback from some members of his party after officiating the same-sex wedding last year of former campaign volunteers, has lost the GOP nomination for his central Virginia seat.

Riggleman, a first-term congressman who had received President Trump's "Total Endorsement," lost to challenger Bob Good, a born-again evangelical Christian and former Liberty University official. Good had called Riggleman "out of step with the base of the party" on marriage, immigration and other issues.

Good won 58% of the primary vote, according to data provided by the 5th District Republican Committee. The vote took place at a nominating convention at a Lynchburg church on Saturday, where roughly 2,500 party activists cast ballots in a drive-through format, because of the coronavirus pandemic. Virginia allows political parties to choose between a party-run nominating convention or a primary.

Two members of the district committee that decided on the nomination contest format had received payments from Good's campaign, NPR has reported. Riggleman had called the party convention process corrupt.

Around midnight Saturday, Riggleman said on Twitter that voter fraud "has been a hallmark of this nomination process" and that he's evaluating his options.

Riggleman votedin line with Trump about 95% of the time since he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018, according to a FiveThirtyEight tally.

He's also consistently voted against efforts to expand LGBTQ rights, despite officiating his two former campaign volunteers' same-sex wedding in July 2019.

Good, who worked as an associate athletic director at Liberty University, a private evangelical college, has said he's on a mission to return Judeo-Christian values to Washington. He campaigned on issues including making English the official language of the U.S. and ending birthright citizenship.

The 5th district in Virginia encompasses 21 counties, including regions such as Charlottesville, and stretches west of Washington, D.C., to the North Carolina border.

Riggleman won the seat in 2018 with 53% of the vote, and Good's nomination may make the seat a bigger Democratic target in November. The Cook Political Report changed the race from Likely Republican to Leans Republican, following Good's win.

Democrats will hold their own primary for the 5th district seat on June 23.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Hannah Hagemann
Hannah Hagemann is a 2019 Kroc Fellow. During her fellowship, she will work at NPR's National Desk and Weekend Edition.