‘Toss-up’ 5th district pits pair of newcomers to replace outgoing Republican

Meet the 5th Congressional district candidates

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Political analysts say the race in the 5th Congressional district is now a “toss up.” That could mean a big change for the traditionally Republican district.

The 5th Congressional district runs through the middle of the state and includes Fluvanna and Cumberland Counties. Republican Congressman Tom Garrett announced he would not seek re-election while he battles alcoholism. The two candidates on the ballot are both somewhat new to politics.

Leslie Cockburn worked as an investigative journalist for “60 Minutes” and “Frontline." Now running for Congress, the Democratic candidate supports universal healthcare. Her top goal is to cut healthcare costs.

“So many insurance companies fled the market when there were no longer subsidies for them,” explained Cockburn. “We need to restore those subsidies. We need to restore the individual mandate, make it a functioning healthcare system again.”

Cockburn says she also wants to restore the EPA’s power and opposes building two gas pipelines through Virginia.

She said, “Those pipelines will leak the methane gas equivalent of 46 coal fire plants. Methane is so much more powerful than CO2. So these pipelines should not be allowed just on the grounds of climate change will do so much damage.”

Cockburn is against privatizing the Veterans Administration, wants to close the gun show loophole on background checks and wants the equal pay law for women to be better enforced.

Republican Denver Riggleman is an Air Force veteran and business owner who ran briefly for governor in 2017. If elected to Congress, he wants to cut spending and waste, and increase transparency. He wants to secure the border but streamline immigration to resolve the farming labor shortage.

Riggleman said, “We need to look at making sure we have an immigration program for migrant workers, for fruit pickers, specifically for dairy, for tobacco, for any of the agricultural interests that use migrant labor. We need to make sure we can streamline that for them because there’s a severe labor shortage.”

Riggleman says the Affordable Care Act needs to be fixed to cut costs.

He explained, “I think we need a free market system that’s transparent for me and you, but I also think we need to keep common protections, for instance pre-existing conditions, which my wife we’ve had to worry about, but also coverage up to 26, being able to cover your children.”

Riggleman wants to reduce regulations that he says limit small businesses, and turn education oversight back over to parents, localities and states.

You can watch more of our interviews with both candidates on the NBC12 Politics page.

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