The Center for Effective Lawmaking, College Republicans at UVA, University Democrats at UVA and Batten School to Co-Host Fifth Congressional District Debate

Candidates competing to represent Virginia’s largest congressional district


CHARLOTTESVILLE — The University of Virginia Center for Effective Lawmaking (CEL), College Republicans at UVA, University Democrats at UVA, and the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy will co-host a nonpartisan debate between the Democratic and Republican candidates vying for Virginia’s 5th Congressional District seat in the November midterm elections. Democrat Leslie Cockburn and Republican Denver Riggleman will face off on Friday, Sept. 28, at 6:00 p.m. EDT in the Great Hall of UVA’s Garrett Hall. The debate will be moderated by CEL Director Craig Volden and Batten School professor Gerald Warburg.

“The Center for Effective Lawmaking is delighted to co-host this debate, in order to facilitate dialogue, educate voters, build relationships, and learn more about our future lawmakers,” said Volden. “The Center strives to support all representatives who wish to become effective lawmakers, starting with their first campaigns for Congress and continuing throughout their legislative careers.”

The 5th Congressional District is of national importance in a midterm election year when control of the House is at stake. President Trump carried the district by 11 points in 2016 while Democrat Hillary Clinton won the Commonwealth by 5.3 points. Virginia has 11 House seats, four of which are currently held by Democrats and seven by Republicans.

“The University Democrats at UVA are excited to partner with the Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, Center for Effective Lawmaking, and the College Republicans to host the VA-05 Congressional District Debate between Leslie Cockburn and Denver Riggleman,” said Mary Alice Kukoski, President of the University Democrats at UVA. “We hope this debate fosters a lively, policy-focused discussion and encourages Virginians to vote come November 6th.”

“The College Republicans are pleased to be partnering with the University Democrats, the Center for Effective Lawmaking, and the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy to facilitate this debate on Grounds,” said Robert Andrews, Chairman of the College Republicans at UVA. “Our goal is to provide the students of UVA and the citizens of the 5th Congressional District an opportunity to see the dichotomy of ideas and positions between the two candidates running for office. Our organization is always ready to promote the exchange of free ideas between differing platforms and we are grateful to the candidates for their willingness to participate.”

The debate is free and open to the public but tickets will be required due to limited seating. The ticket request portal will open through the UVA Arts Box Office at 9:00 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 14 and remain open until all tickets are distributed. Tickets will be required for entry, along with a valid government photo ID. Tickets may be printed at home or picked up at the Arts Box Office (located within the lobby of the Drama Building at 109 Culbreth Road) beginning Monday, Sept. 17 through Friday, Sept. 28 between 12:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.

To foster widespread participation in the debate, any interested individual can submit questions for moderator consideration through an online question submission form until 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 27. Ticketholders will have another opportunity to submit questions in person prior to the start of the debate.


About the Center for Effective Lawmaking: The mission of the Center for Effective Lawmaking is to advance the generation, communication, and use of new knowledge about the effectiveness of individual lawmakers and legislative institutions in Congress.  At the CEL, we envision a Congress comprised of effective lawmakers, strong institutional capacity, and the incentive structure needed to address America’s greatest public policy challenges. For more information, visit

About College Republicans at UVA: The College Republicans at the University of Virginia is a political organization dedicated to promoting Republican principles, electing Republican officials, and growing the Republican Party on grounds. In addition to holding speakers and events, the College Republicans travel to conservative conferences and campaign for Republican officials across Virginia and the nation.

About the University Democrats at UVA: The University Democrats at UVA is the largest political organization at the University of Virginia and hosts weekly meetings with a diverse schedule of engaging speakers. Each fall, members of the organization registers hundreds of voters and campaign for Democratic candidates across the Commonwealth and the nation. This past spring, the University Democrats hosted the Virginia Young Democrats Convention, welcoming over 200 young Democrats from across the Commonwealth to discuss key policy issues and engage with our community. To learn more, visit

About the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy: The University of Virginia Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy is authoring a new model of public policy education. Of the 250-plus schools of public policy and administration in the U.S., the Batten School has the distinction of being the only one explicitly committed to teaching leadership—how it works, why context matters in decision-making and which actions lead to tangible results. The School’s programs inspire students to act vigorously, effectively and ethically on behalf of the common good. Learn more at

Garrett Hall at Sunset

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