Saturday, August 06, 2016

From the Archives: Congressman Scott Rigell on the challenge of reaching independent voters

Publisher's note: This article was originally published on on March 28, 2012. The publishing platform was discontinued July 1, 2016, and its web site went dark on or about July 10, 2016.  I am republishing this piece in an effort to preserve it and all my other contributions to since April 6, 2010. It is reposted here without most of the internal links that were in the original.

This piece became particularly relevant today as Virginia Congressman Scott Rigell (R-Virginia Beach) became the first sitting Member of Congress to endorse Libertarian Gary Johnson for President.

Congressman Scott Rigell on the challenge of reaching independent voters

When Congressman Robert Hurt (R-VA5) hosted a meeting for online journalists in the U.S. Capitol on March 27, he provided an opportunity for them to discuss policy issues and politics with members of the Virginia congressional delegation, including Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA7).

During the lunchtime conversation, which was cut short by a call to vote on the floor of the House of Representatives, three Members of Congress from Virginia – Rob Wittman (R-VA1), Scott Rigell (R-VA2), and Bob Goodlatte (R-VA6) – answered a question posed by the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner about how Republicans can reach out to libertarian-leaning individuals to earn their votes on Election Day.

Wittman replied first, followed by Rigell, who wondered whether libertarians were a significant component of the voting population in Virginia’s Second Congressional District, which he has represented since 2011.

Second District libertarians

“In the Second District,” he began, “I would not put the percentage of the electorate who self-describes as libertarian” as very high, though he averred that “maybe it’s broader than I believe.”

Rigell said that he “certainly” respects the views of libertarians and that he has “always said that I’m a conservative with a libertarian streak. It comes out every now and then, I suppose, in things that I say.”

He pointed out that the alternative that libertarian voters have to the GOP “would be the Democratic Party” but that “we’re the ones [who] are just absolutely committed to keeping government at its smallest possible state.”

‘Where’s the delta?’

Rigell suggested that “it might be helpful” to have a discussion about the differences in thinking between libertarians and Republicans. As he put it, “Where is the delta between a libertarian and a Republican?”

The way the two groups approach “better roads, better schools, national defense spending,” and other issues might, he said, be “worth exploring, just a little bit.”

For Rigell, the “real challenge,” he explained, “is the competition for the hearts, the minds, the trust, and eventually the vote of the independent voter.”

He added that he would “love to to talk a bit about that,” emphasizing that a discussion about independent voters is “not to diminish the role and influence of the libertarian voters.”

Still, he concluded, “that independent voter’s going to determine where we go” in future elections.

Up next: What Congressman Bob Goodlatte thinks about the “common ground” of libertarians and Republicans.

Suggested Links

Virginia Congressman Rob Wittman mulls GOP outreach to libertarians
Bob Goodlatte remembers 9/11, suggests TSA resources are misallocated
Virginia Congressman Bobby Scott weighs in on budget’s ‘tough choices’
Senator Jim Webb talks about U.S.-Korea free trade and stability in Asia
Highlighting free-speech worries, Virginia politicians disagree on SOPA

With the demise of, the original URL for this article is no longer available.

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