Liberty University alumnus Tom Vigneulle has thrown his hat into the ring and is running for U.S. Congress. The small-business owner is a candidate in the Republican primary for Alabama's 6th District, one of the nation's most conservative districts. The primary is on June 3 with a potential runoff on July 15. The winner of the Republican primary would be the overwhelming favorite for the Nov. 4 general election.
Though Vigneulle is not a career politician, he has made a splash in the race. He was lauded by Yellowhammer News as the winner of the March 31 6th District debate.
Vigneulle came to Liberty in 1979 and was very involved during his years on campus. He was freshman class president during his first year and student body vice president during his junior year. He also traveled with a music ministry team as their sound technician. Vigneulle studied business administration and broadcasting while at Liberty, but left shortly before graduating to jumpstart his career.
After a stint in media, Vigneulle, along with his wife, Ginger, started a business, Royal Bedding Manufacturing, Inc. He also manages a farm that he purchased with his father in 1999. The Vigneulles have three grown children and are actively involved in their community and church, where they teach Bible study and other classes.
Though quite content with the life he had built — in fact, as a mattress expert Vigneulle said he never experienced a bad night's sleep — he became frustrated as increased government regulations began to pressure his business. He said that at one point he had to choose to either let an employee go or continue to offer health care because of increased expenses due to the Affordable Care Act. Vigneulle chose to keep the employee.
When he first began to contemplate running for office, Vigneulle was apprehensive, but after talking it over with his wife and trusted friends, he decided to run.
Vigneulle said he stands on principle rather than a platform, "because platforms change; principles do not." He focuses on Constitutional integrity, limited government, personal responsibility, and respect for life (pro-family, pro-life). He said he hopes to use his decades of experience as a successful small business owner to help promote fiscally responsible decisions in government.
"I don’t have an agenda except to serve people," Vigneulle said. "I feel like God has laid it on my heart to run and that is what I am supposed to do at this time."
Vigneulle said his time at Liberty shaped him into the person he is today.
"It molded me into a leader," he said. "I was able to take from (Liberty Founder Dr. Jerry Falwell) that we are supposed to be leaders wherever we are, no matter what we do, and that is what I have tried to do."
He added that being in student government gave him the leadership and organizational skills necessary to run a successful business, as well as forming his moral foundation.
"The principles and values, those things are shaped gradually as you are there (at Liberty)," he said. "It’s part of your spiritual growth … the things I learned at Liberty (like) having a daily devotional is just a normal part of who I am now."
The Vigneulle family has strong ties to Liberty. Vigneulle's father and Dr. Falwell were close friends. His older brothers, Rick and Mick, an evangelizing comedy duo, graduated from Liberty before he came to campus (read more about them in the Liberty Journal).
Learn more about Tom Vigneulle’s campaign at TomForAlabama.com.