5th District Debate Highlights Differences Between Cockburn and Riggleman

Sep 21, 2018


Candidates for the competitive 5th Congressional District met in rural Madison County Thursday night for a debate. Both candidates agree healthcare and the economy are top issues for the area.


Democrat Leslie Cockburn and Republican Denver Riggleman agree -- rising healthcare premiums are a serious problem from Danville to Charlottesville. They disagree about how to fix it.

The 5th Congressional District runs from the North Carolina line to the outermost suburbs of Washington, DC.

Cockburn, a former journalist, wants to restore the individual mandate and rebolster the Affordable Care Act. She’d also target rising drug costs.

“I would like to be on the oversight committee, haul big pharma in front of me and do those hearings in the same way I’d do a 60 minute story,” she said. “Because this is an outrage”

Riggleman, the owner of a local distillery, has noticed a steady rise in prices for health insurance policies for his employees. And while he supports mandatory coverage for pre-existing conditions, he thinks the government’s role in healthcare should be more limited.

“I just also think there’s a polarization on the issue on healthcare. You know I don’t think we need an Obamacare. I don’t think we need a Trumpcare,” Riggleman said. “I think we need a bipartisan care.”

Riggleman is a supporter of the recent tax cuts. He says they’ve been a boon to his and other local businesses in the 5th. Cockburn says those impacts are set to expire and that the true beneficiaries are corporations and the wealthy.

Both are first time congressional candidates. The race became wide open earlier this year when incumbent Tom Garrett announced he wouldn’t seek re-election.

The race is being closely watched. Democrats are targeting it as a seat they think could win in an effort to regain the majority this November.

 This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.