Denver Riggleman

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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 49)
Manassas, Virginia
Political partyRepublican
Christine Blair Riggleman (m. 1989)
EducationRowan College at Burlington County (AA)
Community College of the Air Force (AS)
University of Virginia (BA)
Villanova University (GradCert)
WebsiteHouse website

Denver Lee Riggleman III (born March 17, 1970) is an American businessman and politician from the Commonwealth of Virginia, currently serving as the United States Representative 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. He ran for the Republican Party nomination for Governor of Virginia 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 Science (AS) in Avionics Systems from the Community College of the Air Force 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 was in the Air Force for eleven years, serving as an intelligence officer. He then worked as a contractor for the National Security Agency.[2]

In 2014, Riggleman and his wife opened Silverback Distillery, a craft distillery in Afton, Virginia, outside Charlottesville.[2][4] The Shenandoah Valley facility encompasses 50 acres.[2] Riggleman has pushed for deregulation of distilleries in the state and changes to the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control; together with other distillers, the Rigglemans established a "loosely formed distillers guild" and hired a lobbyist to press for changes.[4] Riggleman has "criticized the state's alcohol and tax laws as unfairly harsh toward spirits producers and spoke[n] of a new 'whiskey rebellion.'"[5]

Political career[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 Republican strategist Ed Gillespie, Prince William County Board of Supervisors chairman Corey Stewart, and state Senator Frank Wagner of Virginia Beach.[2] Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam and former Representative Tom Perriello sought the Democratic nomination.[6] 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.[7] In the November 2018 general election, Riggleman defeated Democratic nominee Leslie Cockburn, receiving 53% of the vote to Cockburn's 47%.[8]

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.[9] 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."[10]


Committee assignments[edit]

Caucus memberships[edit]

  • International Conservation Caucus
  • House Manufacturing Caucus
  • Congressional Candy Caucus
  • Small Brewers Caucus
  • Bourbon Caucus
  • Republican Study Committee
  • Congressional EMS Caucus
  • Congressional Service Women and Women Veterans Caucus

Electoral History[edit]

Virginia's 5th congressional district, 2018[11]
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 friends.[12]


  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. ^ a b Portnoy, Jenna (February 14, 2016). "Va.'s growing craft distillery industry pushes against regulatory roadblocks". Washington Post.
  5. ^ Moomaw, Graham (December 10, 2016). "As Trump era dawns, 2017 Virginia GOP hopefuls court supporters at gathering in Richmond". Richmond Times-Dispatch.
  6. ^ Schneider, Gregory S. (February 2, 2017). "In Va. race for governor, Northam faces Trump voters, aggressive opponent and his own genteel nature". Washington Post.
  7. ^ WRABEL, ALLISON. "Riggleman selected as GOP nominee in 5th District". Retrieved September 12, 2018.
  8. ^ "Virginia Election Results: Fifth House District". New York Times. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
  9. ^ Stack, Liam (July 30, 2018). "'Bigfoot Erotica' Becomes an Issue in Virginia Congressional Campaign". New York Times.
  10. ^ Charles, Ron (July 30, 2018). "What is Bigfoot erotica? A Virginia congressional candidate accused her opponent of being into it". The Washington Post.
  11. ^ "Official Results". 2018 November General. Virginia Department of Elections. November 9, 2018. Retrieved November 11, 2018.
  12. ^ 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