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Dems turn to Cockburn in 5th / April 23, 2018
5th District Democrats have wrapped up their local caucuses and delivered more than enough delegates to make former investigative journalist Leslie Cockburn the party’s nominee in the November mid-term congressional election.

Cockburn, a Rappahannock County resident and first-time candidate, is seeking to unseat one-term GOP incumbent Tom Garrett in the Republican-leaning 5th, which was last represented by a Democrat in 2008 when Tom Perriello won an upset victory over then-Rep. Virgil Goode.

Democrats are hoping lightning will strike twice amid a national political environment that threatens Republican control of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. The 5th, once considered safe territory for Republican candidates, was downgraded to “lean Republican” last week by The Cook Political Report, a well-known handicapper of national races.

Cockburn finished the final day of local caucus meetings in the sprawling district with more than enough pledged delegates to take the nomination. Unofficially, she had 134 delegates, more than the 126 needed to secure a majority at the May 5 district convention in Farmville. The 23 counties and cities in the 5th District will send 250 delegates to the Farmville convention.

Cockburn’s 134-delegate total does not include Saturday’s results from Mecklenburg and Brunswick counties, which have yet to report. Caucuses also were held Saturday in the City of Charlottesville and Fauquier and Greene counties.

Trailing in the race behind Cockburn are Andrew Sneathern, a Charlottesville attorney and former prosecutor in Virginia and his home state of Missouri, and Roger Dean “R.D.” Huffstetler, a Marine veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and a former congressional aide. Sneathern ended the weekend with 54 delegates and Huffstetler amassed 43 delegates, pending the Mecklenburg and Brunswick outcomes.

Sneathern carried his hometown of Charlottesville on Saturday with nine delegates, followed by Cockburn with seven and Huffstetler with three. Huffstetler also is a resident of the city.

A fourth candidate, Ben Cullop of Charlottesville, dropped out of the race last week after failing to claim any delegates.

In Halifax, Cockburn took nine delegates and Sneathern garnered two.

Democrats will make the nomination official when they gather for the Farmville convention on May 5.

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