One really can’t say they are disappointed to hear that Denver Riggleman has bowed out of the Virginia Republican gubernatorial contest, if for no other reason than disappointment would imply regret.
Riggleman has nothing to regret from what was a solid and honorable campaign effort.
From his campaign:
Based on business considerations, resource shortages, and family health issues, I have no other choice but to suspend my campaign for Governor today. I want to thank everyone who has supported me, and those that were willing to donate to our cause. Their sacrifices will not be in vain, because the Whiskey Rebellion will continue. Stay tuned.
Of course, Virginia politics has coarsened over the last 10 years. There are a few highlights in recent years that have to make one wonder whether the old adage where only cream and bastards rise really is true. For ever bad actor out there, there’s a Mark Obenshain, Rob Wittman, and now a Denver Riggleman out there who eschews the politics of combat.
What we saw out of Riggleman — sometimes despite his most ardent supporters — was an example of how to run a movement-based campaign with honor.
Not once did Riggleman issue a negative attack. Not once did he slam his opponents. Each and every single time Riggleman engaged, it was issues-focused and movement-oriented. The man literally had nor made any enemies; all Denver did was collect friends and goodwill.
Naturally, campaigns cost money. Boatloads of money; more money than folks realize they cost. To borrow another adage, amateurs talk tactics and professionals talk logistics… and while the tactics and the issues are a hell of a lot of fun, the extremely hard work of fundraising, dialing for dollars, meeting with donors and online giving is indeed hard work — especially if the narrative for the candidate has to be crafted on the march.
In an era where Trumpshevism seems to dictate that attack, attack, attack is the best and only way to win elections, Riggleman for a brief and shining moment demonstrated that the politics of authenticity — of just running to the right and outflanking the opposition — can be turned back by the politics of sincerity.
Hopefully, this will not be the last we have seen of the Whiskey Rebellion. Riggleman’s introduction to public life can be considered made, and what an introduction it has been.
While Riggleman has yet to make an endorsement (and will probably hold his cards close for the moment), one can expect that not only will the remaining gubernatorial candidates be heaping praise on Riggleman’s effort, but that Riggleman will — if he wants it — be considering his next steps. Party leadership, 501c4 (everyone knows we need a good conservative policy shop in Richmond) — the opportunities are boundless at this point.
…and that’s why we run with integrity rather than scorch the earth, folks. It builds the conservative brand and creates new leaders.
UPDATE: Stewart and Gillespie both have issued statements remarking on Riggleman’s departure from the race.
Gillespie’s thoughts are as follows:
I’ve had the opportunity to spend time with Denver on the campaign trail and it confirmed for me what I thought when he got into this race: He is a good man who is concerned about the size and scope of government like I am. He has been a voice for Virginians who feel left behind and ignored by government, or worse. I know that Denver will continue to find ways to serve our Commonwealth and our country.
Stewart meanwhile makes a similar pitch to Riggleman supporters:
Denver’s fight against Dominion Power was spot on, as his effort was primarily driven by his distaste for Dominion Power’s strong control over Richmond. This is a fight I’ve also engaged in, and so I understand how hard a fight it is, and I hope Denver’s effort to keep Richmond honest won’t stop now.
Of course, the Riggleman announcement overshadowed Gillespie’s unveiling of his tax plan for Virginia, which cuts the state income tax for the first time since 1972 and promises to repeal BPOL in three years. Stewart issued a balkanized version of the same, offering to suspend the state income tax in and around Bristol…
More on this when both plans have been reviewed.