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Leslie Cockburn, Democrat Accused Of Anti-Semitism Over Israel Writings, Loses House Race

Democratic candidate and former journalist Leslie Cockburn, who was dogged during her race for her critical writings about the U.S.-Israel relationship, lost her effort to capture a Republican-held congressional district in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The Associated Press called the race for Cockburn’s opponent Denver Riggleman at around 8:45 p.m. on Tuesday night. With around 75% of the votes counted, Riggleman was beating Cockburn 55%-45%.

Cockburn was accused of being a “virulent anti-Semite” by the Republican Party of Virginia for her past Israel comments. A 1991 book that Cockburn co-wrote with her husband, “Dangerous Liaison: The Inside Story of the U.S.-Israeli Covert Relationship,” was described in The New York Times’s review as being “largely dedicated to Israel-bashing for its own sake. Its first message is that, win or lose, smart or dumb, right or wrong, suave or boorish, Israelis are a menace. The second is that the Israeli-American connection is somewhere behind just about everything that ails us.”

Cockburn and some of her Jewish supporters denied that she was anti-Semitic, but opponents made hay of the allegation regardless. A social media post by the state GOP stated: “Leslie Cockburn hates veterans, hates ICE, hates Israel. Basically, Leslie Cockburn hates America.” She was also targeted with a $300,000 TV ad campaign by the Republican Jewish Coalition.

The race was one of the most unusual in the country. Cockburn originally planned to run against incumbent Republican Rep. Tom Garrett, but he announced his retirement in May to seek treatment for alcoholism after Politico reported that Garrett and his wife would make his staffers do their shopping and other personal tasks. Garrett’s replacement, Riggleman, was mocked for his obsession with Bigfoot, including owning a drawing of what appeared to be Bigfoot erotica.

Contact Aiden Pink at pink@forward.com or on Twitter, @aidenpink

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Leslie Cockburn, Democrat Accused Of Anti-Semitism Over Israel Writings, Loses House Race

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