Denver Riggleman

Denver Riggleman
Denver Riggleman, official 116th Congress photo portrait.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 5th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2019
Preceded byTom Garrett
Personal details
Denver Lee Riggleman III

(1970-03-17) March 17, 1970 (age 50)
Manassas, Virginia, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Christine Blair Riggleman (m. 1989)
EducationRowan College, Burlington (AA)
Air University (AAS)
University of Virginia (BA)
Villanova University (GradCert)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Air Force
Years of service1992–2007
Rankcommissioned officer

Denver Lee Riggleman III (born March 17, 1970) is an American businessman and politician from the Commonwealth of Virginia, currently serving in the United States House of Representatives for Virginia's 5th congressional district. A former Air Force officer and National Security Agency contractor, Riggleman opened a craft distillery in Virginia in 2014. As a Republican, he ran for his party's nomination in the 2017 gubernatorial election, but withdrew from the race. Riggleman was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 2018.

Early life and education[edit]

Riggleman was born and raised in Manassas, Virginia.[1][2] He graduated from Stonewall Jackson High School in 1988.[2] Riggleman earned an Associate of Arts (AA) from Rowan College at Burlington County, formerly Burlington County College, in 1996.[3] He garnered an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Avionics Systems from the Community College of the Air Force at Air University in 1996.[3] In 1998, he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia.[3] Riggleman received a Graduate Certificate (GradCert) in Project Management from Villanova University in 2007.[3]


Riggleman served in the Air Force for 15 years.[4] After initially serving as an enlisted avionics technician, he later received a commission and went on to serve as an intelligence officer.[2]

He founded NSA contractor Analytics Warehouse, LLC, in 2007, and was its CEO until 2015.

In 2014, he and his wife opened Silverback Distillery, a craft distillery in Afton, Virginia, outside Charlottesville.[2][5] The Shenandoah Valley facility encompasses 50 acres.[2] Riggleman has pushed for deregulation of distilleries in the state and changes to the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority; together with other distillers, the Rigglemans established a "loosely formed distillers guild" and hired a lobbyist to press for changes.[5] Riggleman has "criticized the state's alcohol and tax laws as unfairly harsh toward spirits producers and spoke[n] of a new 'whiskey rebellion.'"[6]

Political career[edit]

Gubernatorial election[edit]

In December 2016, Riggleman filed papers to seek the Republican nomination for governor of Virginia in the 2017 gubernatorial election.

His opponents in the Republican primary were former President George W. Bush counselor and Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie, Prince William County Board of Supervisors chairman Corey Stewart, and state Senator Frank Wagner of Virginia Beach.[2]

Sitting Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam and former Representative Tom Perriello sought the Democratic nomination.[7]

Riggleman suspended his campaign on March 16, 2017.[1]

United States House of Representatives[edit]

2018 election[edit]

Riggleman speaking with attendees at the 2018 Young Americans for Liberty National Convention

In the 2018 elections, Riggleman was the Republican nominee for the United States House of Representatives election for Virginia's 5th congressional district. Riggleman defeated Cynthia Dunbar, who had lost the Republican nomination in the 6th district just weeks before, in the final round of voting to get the Republican nomination.[8] The Republican incumbent, Tom Garrett, did not run for re-election.[9]

In the November 2018 general election, Riggleman defeated Democratic nominee Leslie Cockburn, receiving 53% of the vote to Cockburn's 47%.[10]

During the campaign, Cockburn accused Riggleman of being a "devotee of Bigfoot erotica", based on an image he shared from his Instagram to promote a book titled The Mating Habits of Bigfoot and Why Women Want Him. In an interview with CRTV Riggleman stated that the image was an obvious joke, but that he had an interest in Bigfoot, and co-authored the actual self-published book Bigfoot Exterminators, Inc.: The Partially Cautionary, Mostly True Tale of Monster Hunt 2006, with ESPN writer Don Barone.[11] In a phone interview with The Washington Post, he clarified that it was an "anthropological book sort of based on parody and satire" and said "I thought it was funny. There is no way that anybody's dumb enough to think this is real."[12]

2020 election[edit]

Riggleman has faced criticism from the Rappahannock County Republican Party after he officiated a same-sex wedding between two of his friends, and was censured by party officials in September who claimed that he had “abandoned party principles” over fiscal and immigration policy.[13]

On September 26, 2019, Campbell County's Board of Supervisor Bob Good—who also works as an athletics official at Liberty University—announced his intention to challenge Riggleman for his House seat in the 2020 Republican primary. In his announcement, Good accused Riggleman of “betraying” the trust of conservative voters in the 5th district along with casting votes that were not in the best interest of his constituency's entire populace. Riggleman has already secured key endorsements on the right, including from Liberty University President Jerry Falwell, Jr.[14]


Committee assignments[edit]

Caucus memberships[edit]

Electoral history[edit]

Virginia's 5th congressional district, 2018[15]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Denver Riggleman 165,339 53.18
Democratic Leslie Cockburn 145,040 46.65
n/a Write-ins 547 0.18
Total votes 310,926 100.0
Republican hold

Personal life[edit]

Riggleman is married to Christine Blair Riggleman (m. 1989), and they reside in Nellysford.[2] The Rigglemans have three daughters together: Lillian, Abigail, and Lauren.[2] In July 2019, Riggleman was the officiant at a same-sex marriage for two of his friends and campaign volunteers.[16]


  1. ^ a b Vozzella, Laura (March 16, 2017). "Populist candidate Denver Riggleman drops out of GOP race for Virginia governor". Washington Post.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Portnoy, Jenna (December 28, 2016). "A fourth Republican enters the race for Virginia governor". Washington Post.
  3. ^ a b c d "Denver Riggleman III's Biography". Vote Smart.
  4. ^ "Biography". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved May 11, 2020.
  5. ^ a b Portnoy, Jenna (February 14, 2016). "Va.'s growing craft distillery industry pushes against regulatory roadblocks". Washington Post. Retrieved May 11, 2020.
  6. ^ Moomaw, Graham (December 10, 2016). "As Trump era dawns, 2017 Virginia GOP hopefuls court supporters at gathering in Richmond". Richmond Times-Dispatch. Retrieved May 11, 2020.
  7. ^ Schneider, Gregory S. (February 2, 2017). "In Va. race for governor, Northam faces Trump voters, aggressive opponent and his own genteel nature". Washington Post.
  8. ^ WRABEL, ALLISON. "Riggleman selected as GOP nominee in 5th District". Retrieved September 12, 2018.
  9. ^ Virginia Department of Elections, Certified Candidates in Ballot Order for November 6, 2018. Retrieved October 10, 2018.
  10. ^ "Virginia Election Results: Fifth House District". New York Times. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
  11. ^ Stack, Liam (July 30, 2018). "'Bigfoot Erotica' Becomes an Issue in Virginia Congressional Campaign". New York Times.
  12. ^ Charles, Ron (July 30, 2018). "What is Bigfoot erotica? A Virginia congressional candidate accused her opponent of being into it". The Washington Post.
  13. ^ Burke, Julie (September 16, 2019). "Virginia county GOP censures Rep. Riggleman, sparking sharp response". The Hill. Internet. Retrieved September 26, 2019.
  14. ^ Friedenberger, Amy (September 26, 2019). "Liberty University official to challenge Rep. Denver Riggleman for GOP nomination". The Roanoke Times. Newspaper. Retrieved September 26, 2019.
  15. ^ "Official Results". 2018 November General. Virginia Department of Elections. November 9, 2018. Retrieved November 11, 2018.
  16. ^ Vozzella, Laura (July 15, 2019). "Conservative GOP congressman presides at same-sex wedding in Virginia".

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Tom Garrett
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 5th congressional district

U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Guy Reschenthaler
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
John Rose