But from where Rigell sits, he sees no choice but to try.
Americans “know that our country is at great risk unless we find a way to find common ground in sound legislation that’s actually enacted,” Rigell says. “This paralysis we’re in, this toxic mix of partisanship, no facts, weak ideas, is – the Republic can’t stand this.”
Before 2009, Rigell was a successful businessman with only a marginal interest in politics. He built his auto dealerships and real estate holdings in the Hampton Roads region into a small fortune. He's the 29th richest member of Congress, with a net worth of more than $10 million.
But fearing for a nation in dire fiscal straits, Rigell in 2010 threw himself into a crowded GOP primary in Virginia’s Second Congressional District. Despite having donated money to then-candidate Barack Obama in 2008 – a move some thought would be a showstopper in a GOP Virginia primary – he won, riding the Republican wave (and a cool $2 million of his own funds) into the House over freshman Rep. Glenn Nye (D).
He hasn’t been tapped as a rising star by the GOP’s leadership and doesn’t have any sweeping legislative achievements. He’s a low-key member with a seat on the House Armed Services Committee, the political lifeblood of a member from a district studded with military installations, but he hasn’t been at the forefront of Washington’s most high-profile political fights.