WASHINGTON, Aug. 6 (UPI) — A third sitting Republican congressman has broken with party ranks and said he will not vote for Donald Trump in November’s election.
Rigell’s announcement comes after Rep. Richard Hanna of New York became the first sitting Republican in Congress to announce he would not vote for Trump, the party’s presidential nominee. Hanna said he would instead support Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Rep. Adam Kitzinger of Illinois also said this week he would not vote for Trump, although he would not say which candidate he will support instead.
Rigell, who, like Hanna, is retiring from Congress at the end of this term, told the Times he had decided some time ago that he would not support Trump, but only recently arrived at the decision to back Johnson’s long shot candidacy on the Libertarian ticket.
“I’ve always said I will not vote for Donald Trump and I will not vote for Hillary Clinton,” Rigell said. “I’m going to vote for the Libertarian candidate.”
Johnson and his running mate, former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld, have been lobbying Republicans turned off by Trump’s brash brand of politics to support their candidacy. If more Republican officeholders follow Rigell’s lead, it could help Johnson become a viable alternative to Trump among disaffected Republicans.
Presently, Johnson has polled in the upper single digits, a far cry from staking a legitimate claim as a contender, but potentially enough to play spoiler to Trump in closely contested battleground states.
Johnson has said his campaign’s first and most important goal is to reach the polling threshold of 15 percent nationally, which, under the rules set by the Commission on Presidential Debates, would qualify him to participate in the nationally broadcast debates alongside Trump and Clinton.