Trump-backed Riggleman is projected to win Virginia's 5th Congressional District

Key Points
  • Trump-backed Denver Riggleman is projected to keep Virginia's 5th District in Republican hands, according to NBC News.
  • The district includes Charlottesville, site of the deadly 2017 white supremacist rally.
Denver Riggleman, Republican candidate for the 5th congressional district in Virginia, July 20, 2018. 
The Washington Post | The Washington Post | Getty Images

Republican Denver Riggleman will defeat Democrat Leslie Cockburn in the race for Virginia's 5th Congressional District, NBC News projects.

The Trump-endorsed businessman faced an unusually tight race in a district that has been held by his party for a decade. Republican Tom Garrett, who has held the seat since 2008, announced in May that he would not seek re-election.

Cockburn, an award-winning journalist, said she was inspired to run the election of President Donald Trump in 2016. Democrats were targeting the district as part of an effort to swing the House blue. The party needed to net 23 seats held by Republicans.

The candidates sparred over gun rights, race and business regulations, divisive cultural issues in the purple state.

The Republican-leaning district, Virginia's largest, straddles the Appalachians in the west and the increasingly liberal Northern Virginia to the north. The district, once represented in Congress by James Madison, also contains Charlottesville, home to the University of Virginia and the site of a deadly white supremacist rally in 2017.

The race featured one of the most unusual controversies of the midterms.

In July, Cockburn accused her opponent of being "exposed as a devotee of Bigfoot erotica" after it surfaced that Riggleman has posted images of the mythical forest creature to his private Instagram account.

Riggleman has acknowledged authoring two books about Bigfoot, including one with the title "The Mating Habits of Bigfoot and Why Women Want Him." But he has said that the works were meant to be parodies. He has denied any sexual interest in the creature.

"I think we probably jumped the shark on stupid," Riggleman told CNN over the summer regarding the issue.

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