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2013 Recount review: Herring's win seals Democratic sweep in Virginia

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December 20, 2013

Virginia Attorney General Recount:
Recount: Virginia Attorney General General Election, 2013
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngMark Herring (MOV post-recount +907) 50% 1,105,045
     Republican Mark Obenshain 50% 1,104,138
Total Votes 2,209,183
Election Results Virginia State Board of Elections.
Virginia Attorney General General Election, 2013
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngMark Herring (MOV pre-recount +165) 49.9% 1,103,777
     Republican Mark Obenshain 49.9% 1,103,612
     N/A Write-In 0.2% 4,892
Total Votes 2,212,281
Election Results via Virginia State Board of Elections.
Unofficial vote tallies continuing to be tracked here.

By The State Executive Official Team


RICHMOND, Virginia: A statewide recount took place this week in Virginia to bring closure to the race for state attorney general. Wednesday night, Mark Obenshain (R) conceded the election to his fellow state Senator Mark Herring when the margin separating the two candidates reached a reported 907 votes, surpassing his threshold of hope for the possibility of a turnaround victory.[1] He called to congratulate Herring prior to the concession, which arrived before the official results could be announced by the recount court, overseen by Judge Beverly W. Snukals, the following day, December 19. Obenshain prompted the recount on November 27, shortly after the State Election Board certified Herring the winner by a miniscule 165 votes out of 2.2 million cast.[2]. Such a slim margin yielded a recount-upon request opportunity for Obenshain, by law, to be conducted at the expense of the taxpayer.

The 2013 attorney general contest pitted two respected senators against each other in pursuit of the state's chief legal post, soon to be vacated by two-term officeholder and recently defeated GOP gubernatorial nominee Ken Cuccinelli (R).[3][4] Until the attorney general race became worthy of headlines as "the closest statewide election in Virginia history,"[5] it attracted little fanfare. Herring and Obenshain ran dignified and uneventful campaigns amidst an otherwise tension-rich climate dominated by mudslinging and controversial comments, from the governor's race and unsuccessful lieutenant governor candidate E.W. Jackson, respectively.

Herring's survival of the recount will make him the first Democrat to control the office in almost two decades when he is sworn on January 11, 2014, at which time he will also have to step down from the state senate, where he has represented Loudoun County since 2006.[6]. His win, along with those of Terry McAuliffe (governor) and Ralph Northam (lieutenant governor), cements the complete partisan overhaul of the state's top-tier executive branch in favor of the Democratic Party, as well as marking the first time all five of Virginia's statewide offices - adding in both U.S. Senate seats - are held by Democrats since 1969.

In cruel twist of fate, 1969 was also the year that Obenshain's late father, Republican Richard Obenshain, ran for, and lost, the race for Virginia Attorney General.[7][8] Richard Obenshain died in a plane crash during his 1978 campaign for U.S. Senate.[9]

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