Jan. 6 Convict Plans Another Run for Congress
He’s tan, rested, and ready after serving jail time for his role in the Jan. 6 riots. Now Granite Stater Jason Riddle is planning another run for Congress.
Riddle, a Cheshire County Republican, plans to challenge Second Congressional District Rep. Annie Kuster (D-Hopkinton) in 2024. He tried to run in 2022 but couldn’t get his campaign off the ground. He blames a lack of support from the New Hampshire Secretary of State’s Office and Republicans for his failure to launch — not to mention the fact that he was behind bars.
“Prison life, combined with getting nudged out of the way, led to discouragement and me quitting,” Riddle said.
Now that he is a free man again, Riddle is gearing up for another run. Though he is currently not allowed to leave New Hampshire as part of his probation — including travel to Washington, D.C. — he is sure he will be able to serve if elected.
“I’m currently on probation and technically barred from leaving the immediate area, but that will be a mere inconvenient speed bump on my way back to the Capitol,” Riddle said.
The last time Riddle, 34, was at the U.S. Capitol he was part of the violent mob instigated by former President Donald Trump that stormed the building, sending lawmakers into hiding. Riddle did not commit any acts of overt violence, according to court records, though he did steal wine and other items from congressional offices.
Riddle also took numerous selfies and videos during the riot, posted them to social media, gave numerous interviews with television and print publications, and shared his photos and videos with members of the press. He ended up sentenced to three months in jail for taking part in the breach at the Capitol.
Before he was sentenced, Riddle announced his intention to run for Congress against Kuster and again spoke to the media about his plans. During interviews leading up to his nascent candidacy, it became clear Riddle did not know Kuster served in D.C. He indicated he thought she was a state representative who worked in Concord.
Riddle is a former postal worker and a Navy veteran. He was separated from the Navy in 2011 due to alcohol abuse, according to court documents.
Richard Merkt, former chairman of the Cheshire County GOP, was unaware of Riddle’s plan to run in 2024. He said most of the party is currently focused on planning for the next election and working out the right message rather than seeking out potential candidates.
“The focus more for the Republican Party is, now, trying to craft our message for the next election. We’re making sure we have a good response to what our Democratic friends want to do,” Merkt said.
Whoever runs for Congress will need to be someone who can solidify the GOP base while still attracting independents who can swing an election. That candidate will need to be able to address serious issues in a way that resonates with voters.
Though Kuster has been in Congress for 12 years, she is not invincible, Merkt said. She has the advantage of out-of-state fundraising, and she has been fortunate with her opponents, but the right candidate could prevail. Merkt did not address Riddle’s qualifications, instead simply noting there is nothing to stop him from making a run.
“Pretty much anybody who’s not barred by law can run for a nomination,” Merkt said.
The New Hampshire Secretary of State’s Office confirmed that misdemeanor convictions like Riddle’s one count of theft of government property and one count of illegal parading in a government building do not prohibit someone from seeking office. People are free to run as long as they are not imprisoned or under any probation or supervision.
Riddle expects to be completely done with his probation once it is time to file to run in June of 2024.