Report: Mark Obenshain To Concede In Virginia Attorney General’s Race

Mark Herring Mark Obenshain

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.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. grumpy realist says:

    If he does, good for him. One of the marks of a democracy is that the losing side accepts that it lost, without fighting to the bitter end.

  2. michael reynolds says:

    You made a good call on that, Doug. It’s the smartest move available to him. Live to fight another day and all that.

  3. stonetools says:

    So in a purple state, the three Tea Party candidates all lost . The Democrats swept all three posts that were last election swept by Republicans. That should be a clear lesson to all.
    Well done the VA Democratic Party. The much maligned MacAuliffe ran maybe the best campaign of the year, and Northam and Herring were simply better candidates than their Republican counterparts. The Democrats hold all the state wide posts and are well set for 2017.

  4. gVOR08 says:

    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.

    Will the Rs double down on the crazy or focus on getting the seat? The process by which they select their candidate, the candidate himself (is herself possible?), and the election may turn out to be interesting. I hope Doug will keep us informed and keep this soap opera running. Is the special election scheduled?

  5. jib10 says:

    Well, I will have to tone down my cynicism about close elections. My rule is that if the election is within the margin of error, the party that controls the election always wins. Clearly that was not true in this case and my hat is off to Virginia for the way they run elections.

    Wait, maybe Virginia just runs a much more precise election than other states and therefor this election was not actually within the margin of error. Yeah, in that case I am not wrong. Sure, that will work.

    That’s my story and I am sticking to it.