Cockburn campaign holds U.Va. Get Out the Vote rally featuring Olivia Wilde

Wilde spoke on the importance of voting in midterm elections Tuesday

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Olivia Wilde at a reception after the Biltmore rally

Callie Collins | Cavalier Daily

Actress Olivia Wilde spoke at a Get Out the Vote rally Monday afternoon, urging attendees to vote — and get others to vote — for her mother Leslie Cockburn, the Democratic candidate for the Fifth Congressional District. Wilde was joined by her brother Charlie Cockburn, former Congressional candidate Ben Cullop and Jerrod Smith, chair of the Albemarle Democratic Party. 

The event, held at the Biltmore on the Corner, followed Wilde’s previous visit to Charlottesville Oct. 14 for a campaign rally with Cockburn and Jason Sudeikis, an actor and Wilde’s fiancé.

“I was so inspired by the energy I felt in Charlottesville a couple weeks ago I really couldn’t wait to get back,” Wilde said.  

Cockburn, a former journalist, faces Republican nominee Denver Riggleman, a veteran and distillery owner, in a tight race for a seat in the House of Representatives.

The Fifth Congressional District — an area stretching from Fauquier County, Va., to the North Carolina border — typically leans Republican. President Donald Trump won the district in 2016, and Republican Rep. Tom Garrett was elected two years ago with approximately 60 percent of the vote. 

In front of a crowd of students and community members at the Biltmore, Wilde spoke about the importance of young people voting in midterm elections.

“There’s a real sense that young people define this country, they start movements,” Wilde said. “I think young people are saying truly, ‘underestimate us at your own risk.’” 

Wilde said the event was meant to get students not only to vote themselves, but to volunteer their time and bring friends along with them.

“We really need people to get out there and knock on doors in the rain and tell people … ‘Let me give you a ride in my car, you can share my umbrella, here’s a poncho,’” Wilde said in an interview with The Cavalier Daily.

University alumnus Ben Cullop, who ran against Leslie Cockburn in the Fifth Congressional District Democratic primary, spoke to the crowd about the significance of this particular election.

“In 15, 16, 20 years, you’re gonna remember this election, because you’re part of standing up when our country needs you most,” Cullop said.

Students and community members in attendance at the event said they understood the importance of tomorrow’s election.

“Everyone’s super excited because it’s … a referendum on the Trump era,” said Talia Marshall, a Charlottesville resident who will be voting for the first time tomorrow. 

Jackson Samples, a third-year College student and campaign chair with the University Democrats, said that the excitement amongst students surrounding this race is “unprecedented.”

“Even comparing it to 2016 levels, being here on Grounds for that election, I think we are surpassing that in terms of interested voters [and] number of registrations,” Samples said. “I think we’re gonna see a midterm that has young voter turnout that’s never been seen before.”

The Fifth Congressional District race has received a significant degree of national attention as one of the roughly 75 competitive districts which, according to the New York Times, will determine the partisan makeup of the House.  

“I’m working in California right now, and I’m still hearing about the Fifth [Congressional District] all the time,” Wilde said in the interview. “People are looking at this race, they’re saying ‘What is Charlottesville really about?’”

Wilde closed her speech by encouraging voters to find motivation in past political frustration.

“This is our chance to channel all of our rage into something really productive,” Wilde said. “This is catharsis.”

Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday. Students can find their voting location through the Virginia Department of Elections website or Charlottesville’s polling place page. Rides to the polls are available through Student Council’s CAR2Vote initiative.

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