Virginia’s 5th District congressional race started with a sinister attack from the Republican Party of Virginia, claiming that Leslie Cockburn’s book “Dangerous Liaison,” co-authored with her husband, was anti-Semitic because it was critical of U.S. policy regarding Israel — a willfully inaccurate misstatement.

It morphed into a ridiculous attack from Cockburn’s campaign about opponent Denver Riggleman’s Bigfoot comments, made as a running joke with friends on social media — but which she treated as absolutely serious.

It ended with Ms. Cockburn getting personal at a debate at Piedmont Virginia Community College, impugning Mr. Riggleman’s military history and integrity, and with the RPV coming back with another despicable ad claiming that Ms. Cockburn “basically hates America.”

We say again: Such atrocious tactics must end. This is one of the reasons our country is so dangerously polarized: Hyperbolic political rhetoric is poisoning the well.

Denver Riggleman, for instance, would be much better off if the state party had kept its mouth shut.

Still, a decision must be made; to disregard this race would be to throw away a vote — or an endorsement.

Mr. Riggleman strikes us as a straight-talker and a trustworthy man. We also agree with many of his campaign positions. If he can steer clear of his party’s worst impulses — which he says he can do — he should make a fine congressman for the 5th District.

He is a fiscal conservative who believes that the federal government must rein in its rampant spending. Congress needs some independent thinkers like Mr. Riggleman to disrupt this status quo.

He’s been accused of wanting to eliminate any kind of social safety net, but that’s another distortion. He freely discusses his own experience in a household dependent on food stamps as he was growing up. He believes the federal government should continue to provide support for those truly in need. He would cut waste and fraud in these programs to save tax money and free up funds for legitimate needs.

Mr. Riggleman would not spare the Pentagon from budget cuts. Because of his experience in the Air Force and later as a defense contractor, he knows the system from the inside and can better identify its flaws.

In fact, on many issues Mr. Riggleman’s stance is more nuanced than he’s given credit for — and not just because he would cut defense budgets or support a basic social safety net.

Immigration? He believes the 5th District needs more immigrants to meet labor needs — a theme he’s heard from many prospective constituents. Streamlining the entry process could help. But immigration should be legal and the border should be secure, he says, to help control sex trafficking, drug running and the importation of terrorism.

Refugee status?  “It’s our duty to look at all refugees, it’s part of our compassion, it’s part of who we are as a country.” But we need accurate data on just who is applying for refugee status, he says.

The environment? “I’m a conservationist. I love clean spaces, clean air and water.” But environmental regulations should be fair, consistent, and implemented by experts — not by career administrators who know nothing of conditions on the ground.

And although he consistently cites deregulation as a campaign theme, he also acknowledges: “To say that all regulation should go away would be to cross a common-sense threshold.”

Mr. Riggleman’s conservative values, along with that common sense he talks about, would be a welcome addition in Congress.  

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