Charlottesville, VA - Leslie Cockburn decisively won the 4th debate in the VA-05 congressional race against opponent Denver Riggleman.
In stark contrast with his performance at the previous debate in Madison County where he feigned bipartisanship, Denver Riggleman exposed his Freedom Caucus views and policy positions. From denying women basic equal rights to what appeared to be a full-throated appeal to the NRA in support of bump stocks and assault weapons, Denver shocked the audience with his extremist views.
When Cockburn arrived at the debate the hall erupted in cheers. Following the debate, Cockburn supporters streaming out of Garrett Hall were even more energized by the debate outcome:
“As displayed tonight, Leslie Cockburn is the clear choice to represent the 5th District with her stances on immigration, national security, and student loans. Furthermore, it is evident from the question on equal pay that Ms. Cockburn is the only qualified candidate — Mr. Riggleman’s dismissive remarks of women, especially in today’s political climate, further prove that he is unfit to represent the people of the 5th District. The University Democrats are excited to continue to work to get Ms. Cockburn to Washington. “ - Mary Alice Kukoski, President, University Democrats at UVA
“I was incredibly impressed by the candidates’ strict focus on public policy during the debate. Personality politics frequently distracts from the substantive issues that voters really care about. Earlier this evening, Leslie exclusively presented thoughtful, practical, and empowering policy solutions. She truly is the best person in this race to represent the 5th in Washington!” - Sam Finkel, Vice President, University Democrats at UVA
“In tonight’s debate, Leslie Cockburn showed she is the only candidate in this race truly prepared to take on special interests and corruption, particularly those corporations that wish to destroy the environment of the 5th District. Ms Cockburn showed she is determined to stop incredibly harmful pipeline and mine construction, and take on greenhouse gas emissions, something Mr. Riggelman refuses to take seriously. Her strong performance and demonstrated knowledge of environmental issues shows she is the only candidate ready to fight for a sustainable future. As a 5th District resident that prioritizes environmental issues, the choice could not be clearer.” - Jackson Samples, Campaign Chair, University Democrats at UVA
"Tonight I watched the Riggleman/Cockburn debate at my Alma mater, UVA. There is an incredible difference between these two. Leslie favors common sense gun control, Medicare for all, the equal rights amendment, and protecting our environment. Denver wants more bump stocks on the streets, has no plan for healthcare except to cut it, and is against the equal rights amendment. I am incensed that someone in this day and age could come out in favor of bump stocks, the device used to gun down so many people in Las Vegas. I am livid that someone could come out against equality for women. I will take that energy and use it to make sure that Leslie is elected. She is calling for us all to be involved in the process. She wants to hear from us. She wants to fight for us." - Matthew Christensen, Charlottesville, VA
"I was relieved to hear Cockburn bring up federal funding for broadband internet access throughout the 5th district. As a high school student in rural Virginia, I struggled while taking my online AP classes without high speed internet. I’ve watched both my parents struggle operating their own businesses without reliable internet. Cockburn understands that in order to progress economically, Virginia needs to level the playing field and prioritize broadband access. She is going to help my hometown and the many others like it up to speed— an effort long overdue!" - Rita Cliffton, Master of Public Policy candidate, UVA
"Watching the VA05 debate tonight, I was particularly struck by the moment Leslie turned to her opponent, who had falsely claimed to not receive corporate PAC donations, and said "you’ve taken money from the Koch Brothers” and he sat there speechless." - Lou Falzer, Pantops Albemarle County
"I was pleased with Cockburn’s response, but shocked and appalled at Riggleman’s assertion that we don’t need a constitutional amendment. The Equal Rights Amendment would ensure that gender discrimination receives the same level of judicial review as discrimination based on race and religion. Without this guarantee, discrimination against women is legal, and laws as the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Violence Against Women Act can be repealed by a simple majority vote in Congress. It’s time for Virginia to be the final historic 38th state to ratify the ERA and for Congress to act to ensure full equality for all Americans." - Charlotte Gibson, President, Charlottesville NOW
"As a woman, it was difficult for me to listen to what Denver Riggleman had to say about the ERA. I strongly believe in equality for women, and when he said we don’t need a new amendment, I tuned out to everything else he had to say. To be completely honest, that and his protection of assault weapons and bump stocks were dealbreakers for me." - Carly Haling, Charlottesville VA
“Leslie said tonight that it takes courage to run especially in this heated time. She has displayed that courage throughout her campaign and invites all of us now to show our own courage by electing her to Congress in November," said Amy Laufer, Founder of Virginia's List. "An audible gasp could be heard through the crowd when Riggleman said he would not support the Equal Rights Amendment. Even the Republican students wondered why, as a father of three women, he would stand against such an important piece of legislation. Leslie’s powerful performance tonight once again shows us why we need her in DC: to stand up against hate, misogyny and racism.”
"I was struck by Leslie's thorough knowledge of our district's issues, from broadband access in rural areas to affordable housing in Charlottesville. She has clearly listened to Virginians and incorporated their concerns into her policies. I am confident she will be a representative for all constituents and fight for the 5th district in Congress." - Chloe Lowell, Charlottesville VA
"I was very pleased to see Leslie close by reminding us that we need hold our reps feet to the fire and that accountability is one of the most important things that a representative can do for the people of the 5th. She showed us tonight that she will do that really well." - Dave Shreve, Economic Historian and Former Congressional Candidate, Albemarle County
"I went to the Cockburn campaign office in the IX art park this evening where the excitement was palpable! Leslie knows the whole 5th District, the problems and the solutions and I love it!" - Kem Spaulding, Tonsler Precinct (Charlottesville Virginia)
"Leslie's impassioned answers on gun violence and healthcare reform showed her deliberative, evidence-based approach towards the issues facing our district. I'll be proud to be represented by her." - Care Shoaibi, Master of Public Policy candidate, UVA
"Leslie succeeded in tonights debate by responding effectively and thoughtfully to our countries most immediate and vital needs. That being the treatment of women and national efforts to pass the Equality Act. As the father of two girls, I want to believe that we live in a country where skills and knowledge allow you to succeed. Though that is far from reality, as wages and opportunities for women have never been on par with men. Leslie's support and commitment to passing this legislation, paired with her opponent's belief that the status quo will fix everything, proves that she is the right candidate to represent VA-5th in Congress." - Matthew Slaats, Co-Director, Democracy Summer
"Today Leslie stood with those of us who believe the second amendment does not include the absolute right to any armament available. Leslie stood for those of us who have spent the last year paying exorbitant insurance rates for our health care, while Mr. Riggleman peddled the same tired falsehoods and paltry fixes like Healthcare savings accounts. When confronting possibly the greatest long term threat to our world in climate change, Denver Riggleman offered nothing while Leslie laid out a real vision for the future." - Larry Stopper, Chair, Nelson County Democratic Committee
"Leslie has the big picture; she grasps the enormity of the stakes. Denver, on the other hand, reduces almost all questions to business calculations, usually from the narrow perspective of his own distillery business in Nelson. On regulations, he seems to be against them generally without discriminating between those which are truly burdensome and ineffective and those which support workplace safety, safe drugs, food and water and a clean environment generally.
The whole debate he excoriated corporate lobbyists and cronyism, maintaining that they own many of those now in Congress. He maintained that he is his own man. Enter Leslie, who asked him why then he takes money from the Koch brothers and corporate pacs. He looked stunned and had nothing to say.
On gun violence he falls back on the NRA mantra that guns do not kill people, people kill people. He would not eliminate bump stocks, assault weapons, and large magazines. He thinks the 2nd Amendment is a pristine document that should be left alone." - Bill Sypher, Greene County activist