Q&A with Denver Riggleman
Q: How did you come to the decision to run for the Virginia 5th District seat this year?
A: Due to the nature of Congressman Tom Garrett’s retirement, we had an abnormal process for the Republican nomination. I was not intending to run for Congress and was focused on growing my business. But following Congressman Garrett’s announcement, friends of mine encouraged me to jump in. They told me my experiences as a veteran and small business owner had prepared me to serve better than anyone else. And that is how I see it — an opportunity to serve the people of the 5th District. We have too many politicians and not enough public servants in Washington.
Q: Why do you want to serve the 5th District?
A: I feel called to serve, and I see an opportunity to bring change to Washington. We don’t need more people who are going to Congress to spew partisan talking points. We need servant leaders who are willing to compromise in ways that benefit the whole. I feel that my experiences as a veteran and successful small business owner give me an insight into what changes can be made in D.C. to help people in the 5th District. This can be reducing regulations that stop businesses from creating jobs or understanding how to equip our military to be successful.
Q: How do you plan on working with other House leaders who may sit on the opposite side of the aisle than you?
A: I am excited about the opportunity to go to Congress and seek out bi-partisan solutions. I am not a traditional Republican — I hold views that are different from many in my party. But my views are grounded in an appreciation for liberty and the shared values we have in the 5th District. I will always listen to people on “the other side of the aisle” and use their input to create policy that helps everyone. For example, I see healthcare as an area ripe for a bi-partisan solution. Democrats passed Obamacare without Republican support and Republicans’ efforts have proceeded without bi-partisan input. We don’t need another Obamacare, we don’t need a Trump-care, we need a bi-partisan-care where both sides compromise on things they want.
Q: What is a personal belief you hold that grounds your political work?
A: I love liberty. I said this on stage at a recent debate, and it informs my every decision. One of the things that spurred my involvement in politics was when I learned exactly how much government red tape harms business growth. Personal freedom is the cornerstone of everything I have done in my life, from opening a small business to serving my country, and I will carry that with me to the House of Representatives.
Q: Why should college students vote for you?
A: I am not a politician or an elitist. I didn’t go to Yale or grow up in an ivory tower. I went to community college, then completed my undergrad at UVA right here in the 5th District. I can relate to college students because I took out student loans, and my daughters did when they went to college. But more than that, my policies are policies that will help young people and college students. I will work to reform our student loan process to keep loan costs manageable and help students get out of debt. I will work to expand access to career training programs that prepare students and young people for successful careers. I have seen a tremendous amount of energy and enthusiasm building for my campaign, especially from young people and college students as they learn about my ideas for how to grow the economy and expand opportunity for young people to be happy and successful.
Q: If elected, what type of working relationship do you foresee having with the current White House Administration?
A: If elected to Congress, I will make every decision based upon what helps the 5th. Nobody will own my vote when I am in Congress — not the president, not the speaker, not lobbyists or corporate interests — I will always vote to improve the lives of people in the 5th District. Some of President Trump’s actions have a direct impact on the livelihood of people in the 5th District. His management of the economy and the Republican tax cuts have brought more jobs to this part of Virginia and given people more money in their pockets. I would support him in efforts like that. But if he does something that hurts the 5th District, I will oppose it.