GOPer Mark Obenshain To Seek Recount In Virginia Attorney General’s Race
Not surprisingly, Republican nominee Mark Obenshain will seek a recount in the incredibly tight race to be Virginia’s next Attorney General:
State Sen. Mark Obenshain will formally ask for a recount in the historically tight race for Virginia attorney general, his campaign announced Tuesday, leaving the final outcome still unclear three weeks after Election Day.
The State Board of Elections certified the results of the contest Monday, with state Sen. Mark Herring (D-Loudoun) declared the winner by 165 votes out of more than 2.2 million cast over Obenshain (R-Harrisonburg). The narrowness of that result — the closest statewide race in modern Virginia history — is well within the margin for the loser to request a recount that will be paid for by the state.
The Obenshain team announced in a statement Tuesday afternoon that it would do just that, and that two members of his legal team — Ashley L. Taylor, Jr. and Stephen C. Piepgrass — would hold a conference call with the media at 10 a.m. Wednesday.
Herring, whose campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday, has been proceeding as though he expects to serve as the next attorney general. He previously named a transition team, and on Tuesday announced the five co-chairs of his inaugural committee. The Democrat’s legal team has argued that it is very unlikely that a recount would overturn the result.
But Obenshain has also named a transition team and has stressed that the race is so close a recount could well make the difference.
Pat Mullins, the chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia, said Obenshain had “made the right decision.”
“Recounting a race this close is simply the prudent thing to do,” Mullins said. “Virginians like a quick resolution to our elections. I know I certainly do. But we must take the time to be sure that each and every legitimate vote is counted. Virginians deserve no less.”
In a radio interview Tuesday, Gov. Robert McDonnell (R) said he would “absolutely” ask for a recount if he were in Obenshain’s shoes.
“I feel for both of the candidates,” McDonnell said. “Here they are, they’ve slugged it out for two years, and it ain’t over. … I think both Mark and Mark are gonna have a stressful Thanksgiving.”
The last statewide recount in Virginia occurred in the 2005 attorney general race, when then-delegate McDonnell beat state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (D-Bath) by 360 votes. The result that year wasn’t certified until Dec. 21.
Under current state law — which has changed since 2005– a special recount court will be formed, helmed by the chief judge of the Richmond circuit court, to hear disputes and challenges raised by the two campaigns. Every ballot that can be recounted by hand will be, as those that were counted by optical scan machines will be run through the machines again.
Should be an interesting December in the Commonwealth of Virginia.