CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. —Republican Denver Riggleman easily defeated Democrat Leslie Cockburn for the Virginia fifth district congressional seat, securing the seat being vacated by retiring GOP Rep. Thomas Garrett in a district President Donald Trump won by 11 points in 2016.
Riggleman defeated Cockburn 53.3 percent to 46.6 percent in a race that was a statistical tie on Tuesday morning.
Riggleman, an Air Force veteran and local businessman, centered his campaign around the job opportunities he brought to the community while painting Cockburn as elitist and highlighting her ties to Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
In his victory speech, Riggleman said He wants to make sure the GOP tax cuts stay in pnace, the immigrant labor force is streamlined to fill unoccupied jobs in the distict and the healthcare system continues to protect those with pre-existing conditions.
Voters said Tuesday morning that the issues that drove them to the polls in the pouring rain were health care and the sense of political decency they hoped to regain.
Brenda Lawson, a 61-year-old Charlottesville resident, said the midterm elections were, in part, a chance to restore a moral order.
“I feel like health care is very important, but also morality,” Lawson said. “I am not happy with the way our country is headed.”
The district was regarded as a tight contest heading into Election Day.
Marilyn Duling, a retired dental hygienist, said Republican control of Congress had to be stopped.
“I wanted to do everything to keep Trump from having a government that is totally Republican.”
Carl Heckster Miller, a 50-year-old professor who voted for the Hillary Clinton-Tim Kaine ticket in 2016, said his midterm vote was for the restoration of decency in politics.
“The wheels are off the bus in terms of the kind of rhetoric and violence that’s been happening from the other side and our president,” he said.
In 2017, Republican gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie won the district by 9 percentage points even though Democrat Ralph Northam won Virginia overall. And the district has not elected a Democratic representative to Congress since 2008. Additionally, the fifth district has not supported a Democratic candidate for president since Harry Truman.
The fifth district is one of the largest districts in the country with an area of 10,181.03 square miles covering the outskirts of Washington, D.C. down to the border of North Carolina with Danville and Charlottesville at its center.
Scott Brown, 68, a retired high school teacher, also voted for Kaine and Cockburn. His driving issue was health care.
Marilyn Duling, 82, a retired dental hygienist, voted Tuesday as she traditionally does – for Democrats. But this year she had a particular mission.
Julia Conte is a 20-year-old student at the University of Virginia from Richmond, Virginia. She’s voting for Democrat Leslie Cockburn to replace retiring Republican Rep. Thomas Garrett,because she says climate change is the defining issue of her generation.
Amy Anderson, a 59-year-old educator in Charlottesville, said her vote was a vote against President Donald Trump. She voted for Leslie Cockburn and all Democrats because she wants civility in politics.Cockburn is running against Republican Denver Riggleman in the 5th Congressional District to replace retiring Republican Rep. Thomas Garrett.