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October 14, 2018

Pundits: 5th District race uncharacteristically close 

Photos/Lawrence Emerson
Denver Riggleman (R) and Leslie Cockburn (D) vie for the 5th District U.S. House of Representatives seat, which Tom Garrett will leave at year’s end.
“Cockburn will probably have to run a nearly perfect race to win in a district Trump carried by 11 points.
— U.Va. Center for Politics’ “Crystal Ball”
On the Ballot
Tuesday, Nov. 6, election

U.S. Senate
Tim Kaine (D)*
Corey Stewart (R)

5th House District
Leslie Cockburn (D)
Denver Riggleman (R)

1st District
Vangie Williams (D)
Rob Wittman (R)*

* Incumbent

Voter registration
5 p.m. Monday, Oct. 15, deadline
By Leland Schwartz
For FauquierNow

Voters in Fauquier and throughout Virginia have until 5 p.m. Monday to register for the Nov. 6 election.

Those who cast ballots will elect U.S. House of Representatives members and one of Virginia’s two U.S. senators.

In the historically Republican 5th Congressional District, which includes most of Fauquier, some political pundits see an extremely close race for the open seat between Leslie Cockburn (D) and Denver Riggleman (R).

Professor Stephen Farnsworth, director of the University of Mary Washington’s Center for Leadership and Media Studies, said last week called the race “50-50.”

Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight site gave Ms. Cockburn a slight lead — 51.2 percent to 48.8 percent —over Mr. Riggleman. The site ranks the 5th District 14.4 percent “more Republican-leaning than the country overall, based on how it has voted in recent presidential and state legislative elections.”

The Cook Political Report has the district “leaning” Republican, as does the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, which stands near the geographic center of the sprawling 5th that extends to the North Carolina border.

“Cockburn will probably have to run a nearly perfect race to win in a district Trump carried by 11 points,” the U.Va. center’s “Crystal Ball” reported earlier this year.

“The biggest challenge for Riggleman is to be heard in the windstorm that is the Trump presidency,” Dr. Farnsworth said in a phone interview. “It’s very hard for any candidate to get all that much public or media attention when the president seems to dominate every minute of every news cycle.” 

Ms. Cockburn, he said, needs “to convince the generally conservative district to support more progressive policies than the district usually does.”

Dr. Farnsworth described the 5th as “really a bunch of districts — a slice of the Washington suburbs, the Charlottesville area, the Lynchburg area, and a solid core of Southside Virginia, all rolled into one.”

He said Democrats will do well in the more urban and suburban areas, while the Republicans will do very well in the rural areas. 

Dr. Farnsworth, who moderated one of the candidates’ four debates in Madison County, said both Mr. Riggleman and Ms. Cockburn “presented themselves effectively” showing “a solid grasp of issues that one does not always see in first-time candidates for Congress.”

U.S. Rep. Tom Garrett, the Republican who dropped out of the race in May to face his problems with alcoholism, won the seat by nearly 17 percentage points in 2016.

Mr. Garrett on Friday said he would be “shocked if Riggleman doesn’t win by a comfortable margin.” While the congressman has seen the pundits’ predictions of a close race but said, “I just don't buy it” and predicted Mr. Riggleman would win by 10 points.

Mr. Riggleman owns a distillery in Nelson County and works a Pentagon consultant. A Rappahannock County resident, Ms. Cockburn is a former journalist and author.

In the 1st District — including the Fauquier precincts of Bealeton, Catlett, Lois and Morrisville — Rep. Rob Wittman (R ) faces Democratic challenger Vangie Williams.

Sen. Tim Kaine (D) faces Republican challenger Corey Stewart.

As of last Wednesday, Fauquier County had 50,721 registered voters, about 2,000 more than at the same date in 2016, according to county General Registrar Alex Ables.

Mr. Ables said his office has processed 1,154 applications for an absentee ballot for the Nov. 6 election, while at the same point in 2016, the county had processed 1,800 applications.

Voter registration “fluctuates depending upon where we are in the four-year election cycle, with the presidential election being the zenith,” he said.

Generally, Mr. Ables said, “voter registration activity ramps up in the 45 to 60 days prior to Election Day and that model is holding true for this election.

“Everyone needs to be aware that the voter registration deadline for the November general election is October 15 the at 5 p.m.,” he said.

Citizens can register vote in the general registrar’s office at 528 Waterloo Road in Warrenton. You can check your registration on the Virginia Department of Elections website.

Member comments
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Melrose Carter · October 18, 2018 at 8:16 pm
I'd vote for my dog (if she was running for political office) before I'd vote for another Republican. She knows how to behave and is honest in her actions.
Jim Griffin · October 17, 2018 at 8:14 pm
Turns out there was no tax cut at all: The deficit ballooned 17% and might've been 24% but for certain calendar quirks:

https://thehill.com/policy/finance/410177-deficit-soars-to-782-billion-in-2018

We were promised the "cut" would prove revenue neutral at worst, but now we've learned that what they called a tax "cut" was really a big balance transfer onto the our collective credit card.
BJ · October 15, 2018 at 10:18 am
"If you care about your children, your taxes, and your future... GET OUT AND VOTE!" Yes, vote Democratic IF YOU REALLY CARE, unlike the Republicans who care only about the RICH and their RICH children.

Blaine Johnson
RGLJA · October 15, 2018 at 10:06 am
Elections are all about turnout. In the last midterm election, only 44% of Fauquier voters bothered to even show up and vote. However, in the Presidential race, 77% showed up, which tells you that more people will vote when they are energized about the issues. The question now is, Who Cares More in this election?.... the blue wave or the red wave? It's clear that the Dems have a crazytown mob ready to vote this time. The Kavanaugh confirmation showed us what those radicals will do if they get their candidates elected. Don't be complacent, Republicans. They will win if you stay home like you did in 2014. If you care about your children, your taxes, and your future... GET OUT AND VOTE!
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