Republican Denver Riggleman and Democrat Leslie Cockburn debated Friday night at UVA’s Garrett Hall. This was the third debate thus far for the 5th Congressional District race. Riggleman offered a conservative vision that was clearly independent of party dogma and outside interest groups. Cockburn, on the other hand, spoke like a loyal solider to the hyper-partisan Democrat Party.
In the candidates’ opening statements, Cockburn called herself “a farmer,” and said our country and our government are in a “crisis.” Riggleman said he was running to push back against over-regulation that hurts economic growth and mentioned how nice it is to be speaking at his alma mater, where he graduated with distinction.
After their opening statements the moderator began asking questions, 24 in all. The first question was about healthcare. Riggleman said healthcare costs are “skyrocketing,” and talked about the need for health savings accounts and free market solutions to combat those rising costs. More government is not the answer. Cockburn began her answer by offering information about Riggleman. She began with, “my opponent has pledged to join the Freedom Caucus,” and then railed against the Freedom Caucus. In her answer to the second question, also on healthcare, she said “we need to restore the individual mandate,” while Riggleman said lower costs “come from competition.”
On the National Debt, Riggleman said he would support efforts to audit every federal agency to see where the waste is. He said, “we can’t tax ourselves out of this.” Cockburn blamed the National Debt on President Trump, as though the National Debt just started under Trump’s administration, and said the latest tax cuts “needs to be reversed.” She’s rich and no longer works for a living so of course she doesn’t care about the savings middle America is experiencing from the Trump tax cuts.
On the 2nd Amendment, Riggleman said he would protect it. Cockburn hit the latest liberal talking points, saying she would ban bump stocks, “large magazines are unnecessary,” and she would “close” the mythical “gun show loophole.”
There was a question about character, whether it matters or not. Of course it does, so this question was obviously just an opportunity for Cockburn to say negative things about President Trump. Riggleman went first and said, “there is nothing more important than character.” He also said that he only has to square how he acts. Cockburn went a different route. She broke the debate rules when she started her answer by turning to Riggleman to say, “you’re taking money from the Koch brothers,” and then proceeded to bash President Trump. The irony of Cockburn breaking the debate rules on the question of character was obviously lost on her. Funny, but shamefully disappointing.
The last question was what wasn’t asked that you wished had been asked? Cockburn went first and said “climate change.” Riggleman said he thought a question on opioids would have been appropriate.
For their closing statements, Cockburn began by taking Riggleman’s lead and discussing her thoughts on opioids. After that she said, “Charlottesville is the center of the universe” (Nicolaus Copernicus was then seen storming out of the debate). Riggleman ended by saying he despises politics. He quoted Thomas Jefferson and talked about how a good education and his service in the Air Force has benefited him.
The most surprising, and most disappointing, part of the debate came from the question asking on what issue would you break from party leadership. Riggleman went first and said he would oppose Republicans who want to spend more and he is against the nonstop raising of the Debt Ceiling. A solid answer that should excite conservatives. But then came Cockburn’s surprising answer. Without hesitation she said, “HR800.” I thought to myself- wow, that’s pretty impressive. I thought that because it was fair to assume, based on the question, that she had picked a Republican sponsored bill. But when I got home and looked it up I was disappointed beyond description. HR800 is a bill that was introduced by a Democrat and has 20 cosponsors, all of which are Democrats! Those cosponsors include Rep. Keith Ellison and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee. Unbelievable. So, Ms. Cockburn let’s try this again. Can you name anything that you support that is not an echo from hyper-partisan talking points crafted by D.C. Democrats? Anything?
Throughout the debate a theme was expressed by Riggleman; he’s a conservative who will represent the 5th District over any party leadership pressure or influence from the D.C. swamp.
After the debate concluded Riggleman stayed to talk with attendees while Cockburn made a beeline for the exit. Below is a picture of Riggleman with the UVA College Republicans.