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Culpeper Times • November 8-14, 2018
Riggleman dashes Cockburn bid to turn red 5th a shade of purple By John McCaslin Rappahannock News Staff Republican Denver Riggleman, a central Virginia distillery owner and latecomer to the 5th district congressional race, defeated Democrat Leslie Cockburn, a resident of Rappahannock County, in Tuesday’s midterm election. With all 330 district precincts reporting, Riggleman secured 165,107 votes (53.24 percent) to Cockburn’s 144,493 (46.59 percent). There were 540 write-ins. “It was a good race,” an elated Riggleman told the Rappahannock News by telephone late Tuesday night. Praising his Democratic opponent, he said it’s time to “move on, and work at what’s best for Virginia. One gets pretty emotional right now after such a long and hard-fought race. I wish Leslie all the best.” On Wednesday morning, Cockburn wrote to this newspaper: “We ran a great campaign in an extremely difficult district. It will have the lasting effect of giving people hope from Danville to Fauquier and inspiring others to take up the fight.” It was beyond a satisfying victory for Riggleman, a U.S. military vet-
eran who up until Election Day was seen as running neck and neck with Cockburn, a former investigative journalist. Just recently the 5th district was labeled a “toss up” by the University of Virginia’s Larry Sabato, although internal GOP polling had given Riggleman a 10 percentage point lead. After voting early Tuesday in Afton, Riggleman and his wife Christine hit the road for a full day of last-minute campaigning. He visited Bedford, Franklin, Pittsylvania, Appomattox, Fluvanna, and Albemarle counties, as well as the city of Danville on the North Carolina border. He then headed back north to await election returns at a restaurant brewery near his home. Even in her home base of Rappahannock County, Cockburn didn’t fare as well as some might have expected. Riggleman captured 2,040 of Rappahannock’s votes (52.56 percent) to Cockburn’s 1,835 (47.28 percent). There were six write-ins. Voters surrounding Chester Gap went overwhelmingly for Riggleman, giving the Republican more than 71 percent of the tally (233 votes to Cockburn’s 93). In Amissville, it was a similar outcome — 65 percent of the ballots went to Riggle-
man (460 votes to 251). In Castleton, 53 percent of voters preferred Riggleman (324 votes) compared to Cockburn’s 47 percent (290 votes). It was closer in the precinct surrounding Washington, where Riggleman garnered 370 votes (51 percent) to Cockburn’s 357. The only two Rappahannock precincts that went for the Democrat surrounded the villages of Sperryville and Flint Hill. Poll goers in the former awarded Cockburn 355 votes (54 percent) to Riggleman’s 305, although in Flint Hill she barely edged her opponent, 202 votes to 197. The progressive platform of Cockburn, embraced certainly by Democrats but not nearly the number of Republican crossovers she banked on to put her over the top, followed more than a year of grassroots organizing by the candidate in 21 counties stretching from Northern Virginia to North Carolina — a district larger than New Jersey. Cockburn, who sought to become the first woman elected to James Madison’s former seat, logged some 85,000 miles on her car during the campaign, using her home in Rappahannock County as her pit stop. Driven to run for Congress by
the election of Donald Trump, she immediately pledged to protect the Affordable Care Act, advocate for Medicare for all, fight opioid addiction, protect the environment and immigrant families, work to restore racial harmony, and fight for women’s equal rights, work and pay — a platform contrary to the president’s White House agenda. Once the race was declared for Riggleman, National Republican Congressional Committee spokeswoman Maddie Anderson stated of Cockburn: “The Democrats put forth one of the most radical candidates in the country, and it massively backfired. Denver Riggleman fits the district and will represent Virginians well. The NRCC is proud to congratulate Congressman-elect Denver Riggleman.” A prominent journalist, filmmaker and author, Cockburn said it was mainly Trump’s “attacks” on the Fourth Estate that sealed her bid for Capitol Hill, “because he was pointing at reporters and saying you are the enemy of the people, and that is something that is very un-American and shocking. And to do that to the FBI? It’s kind of beyond belief. But it means we all better stand up and do something about it.”
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