Report: Mark Obenshain To Concede In Virginia Attorney General’s Race
Multiple reports are indicating that Republican Mark Obenshain will be conceding defeat in the Virginia Attorney General’s race this afternoon:
RICHMOND — State Sen. Mark D. Obenshain (R) will concede the race for Virginia attorney general to Democrat Mark R. Herring on Wednesday, according to two people familiar with the decision.
Obenshain’s announcement will put an end to a drawn-out contest that, on election night, was the closest statewide election in history. Obenshain campaign spokesman Paul Logan did not immediately respond to a call seeking comment Wednesday.
Herring had significantly widened his slim lead over Obenshain in a statewide recount that began Monday and was scheduled to finish Wednesday.
The race to succeed Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R) had turned into a protracted nail-biter not only to determine who serves as Virginia’s top law-enforcement official, but also to determine control of the evenly split state Senate. Herring and Obenshain are state senators, and a win by either would have prompted a special election.
Because Herring’s Loudoun County district is seen as very competitive, his win could cause Democrats to lose power in the evenly divided Senate. The GOP has a wide margin in the House.
An affirmed victory by Herring would seal the Democrats’ sweep of statewide offices this year, the first in nearly a generation; he joins Gov.-elect Terry McAuliffe and Lt. Gov.-elect Ralph Northam.
On Tuesday, Herring’s lead grew to more than 810 votes, with 73 percent of ballots across the state recounted, according to Herring’s campaign.
With the number of contested ballots being forwarded to Richmond far below 810 and only a few hours left before all jurisdictions must forward their challenged ballots, there was no hope that Obenshain would be able to overcome Herring’s lead. While that would have left Obenshain with the option of contesting the election in the legislature, that was a road fraught with political peril, as I’ve already noted.
According to reports, Obenshain is holding press conference at 3pm today in Richmond at which the concession is expected. Politically, this seems like the smart move for him, and it leaves open the possibility that he will be able to position himself as a candidate for Governor in 2017. In any case, Herring’s victory would place all five of the statewide offices in Virginia (Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, and the two U.S. Senate seats) in the hands of one party for the first time in some 40 years.