A recount is likely, but at noon on Wednesday, Republican state Senator Mark D. Obenshain was winning the attorney general race by 481 votes in a contest involving nearly 4.4 million voters.
As late as 10 a.m., Democrat Mark R. Herring, a state Senator from Loudoun County, appeared to be winning. At the same time, Obenshain was emailing notices to the media and saying that he would prevail in the race.
It may be Thanksgiving week before the official recount is done.
In Caroline, Herring received 3,836 votes, compared to Obenshain’s 3,548. Obenshain got a clean sweep of votes in Bowling Green, Sparta and the Lake precincts and landed more votes in Madison and Milford, but with a smaller margin. Herring prevailed in the other seven precincts.
Obenshain, a Harrisonburg resident, was elected to the Senate of Virginia in 2003, and he serves on five committees: Privileges and Elections, which he chairs; Courts of Justice; Commerce and Labor; Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources; and Rules.
Obenshain’s website states that he has become one of Virginia’s leading proponents of reform-minded limited government conservatism. The themes of his campaign included: Taxes, better schools, transportation, government reform, public safety, private property rights, Second Amendment rights, energy, and family values.
Obenshain’s campaign promised a fight against elder abuse and human trafficking. Obenshain said he would “establish an Elder Abuse Prevention Center in the Attorney General’s office,” and “expand partnerships with local law enforcement to help them not only identify and prosecute abuse and neglect cases, but effectively respond to them, getting abused seniors the care they need.”
Obenshain says he is in favor of an Ethics Reform. “Few things are more important to good government than public confidence, and that can only be attained—or warranted—when we adhere to the principles of openness and transparency,” he said.
He would “work to ensure that my office maintains the highest standards of transparency and accountability, provide professional ethics training to all OAG employees, and make the expertise within the office available to others who wish to benefit from professional ethics training and a better understanding of Virginia’s conflict of interest and disclosure laws.”
Herring’s campaign website said that he has worked closely with law enforcement and prosecutors to keep dangerous new synthetic drugs off the shelves. Also according to his website, he has pushed legislation to target those who would commit financial scams against seniors, and as a member of the Gov. McDonnell’s Domestic Violence and Response Advisory Board, he sponsored and passed legislation to strengthen penalties for acts of domestic violence.
He serves on the Senate General Laws and Technology, Commerce and Labor, Local Government and Rehabilitation and Social Services Committees. In 1999, he was elected to the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, representing the Leesburg District.
Herring’s campaign highlights these themes: economic development and job creation; transportation; education; open government; military and veterans affairs; and energy conservation.
His campaign strongly emphasizes protecting women’s health care. “I don’t believe politicians in Richmond have any business interfering with women’s personal contraception decisions,” he said. “As your Attorney General, I’ll keep politicians out of women’s healthcare and put the law first.”
Herring’s campaign also promises to enhance ethics in state government. “Virginia government is facing an ethics crisis that requires real leadership and meaningful action from elected officials,” said Herring. “As attorney general, I am committed to returning credibility to the office, accountability to our state government and restoring the public trust.”
He strongly oppose human trafficking. “This heinous crime violates the human rights of its victims and it makes our communities less safe. We must eliminate this deplorable practice from our Commonwealth. My plan strengthens existing law and enhances the capabilities of our prosecutors and law enforcement officials to prevent human trafficking from taking root,” he said.
Herring is in favor of establishing equal rights for Virginia citizens, “As I travel across the Commonwealth, the message is consistent and clear: Virginians are ready for fundamental change in the office of Attorney General. That change starts with having an Attorney General who will promote equality, rather than sow division. I’m committed to an Equality Agenda because I believe it’s time we had an Attorney General who will protect and defend the civil rights of all Virginians.”
Other issues that Herring’s campaign promises to battle include domestic violence, “designer” drugs, gun violence, and Internet predators.