Virginia attorney general election, 2013
- 1 Race background
- 2 Results
- 3 Candidates
- 4 Nominating conventions
- 5 Polls
- 6 Campaign sites & media
- 7 Campaign finance
- 8 Endorsements
- 9 News
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In March 2013, Governing magazine rated Virginia's open attorney general seat as "vulnerable" heading into the 2013-2014 elections because incumbent Republican Ken Cuccinelli was not running for re-election.
The race to replace Cuccinelli began at the primary nomination stage; both Republican convention and Democratic election candidates drew primary contests. On May 18, two "strong fiscal and social conservatives" -- state Sen. Mark Obenshain and state Rep. Rob Bell -- competed for delegate votes at the Republican Party of Virginia's closed nominating convention, which Obenshain won. The nominee's late father, GOP politician Richard Obenshain, died in a plane crash during his 1978 campaign for U.S. Senate. Obenshain faced state Sen. Mark Herring in the general election. Herring defeated former assistant U.S. Attorney for Virginia Justin Fairfax in the Democratic primary election, which took place on June 11, 2013.
Although Obenshain was considered the early front-runner, polls showed Herring leading by a very slim margin in late October 2013, a likely effect, or occupational hazard, for Obenshain, of sharing what had become a contaminated GOP ticket. One week before election day, at least two influential backers - Planned Parenthood and Independence USA PAC - hoped to widen the gap with roughly one million dollars worth of media spots lampooning Obenshain for his past support of a "personhood" amendment, which would have banned birth control and abortions regardless of the circumstances," in addition to his stance against increased background checks on prospective gun owners. Independence USA PAC was heavily driven by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The PAC had already invested millions into ads hammering "far-right" Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli for his affiliation with the National Rifle Assocation (NRA), and the buys against Obenshain sought to lump the lesser-known AG contender together with Cuccinelli, who was the most recognizable, and possiblly most troubled, candidate appearing on the party's statewide ticket in 2013. Meanwhile, the NRA went on the counterattack; the organization unleashed a $500,000 anti-Herring ad into targeted Virginia markets. The NRA's assistance paled in comparison, however, to the $2.6 million infusion from the Republican State Leadership Committee into the effort to elect Obenshain, whom the committee viewed as the only hope for preventing Democrats from scoring a clean sweep of the state-row races in 2013.
|March 28||Last day to file candidacy for primary election|
|May 17-18||Republican primary convention|
|May 20||Voter registration deadline for primary election|
|June 11||Primary election, last day for non-party candidates to file candidacy|
|June 17||Last day for Independent candidates to file for general election|
|Oct. 15||Voter registration deadline for general election|
|Nov. 5||General election|
- Nominating conventions
- Campaign sites & media
- Campaign finance
Democratic primary election
|Attorney General of Virginia Democratic Primary Election, 2013|
|Election Results Via:Virginia State Board of Elections.|
Coming November 5, 2013
Note: Recount likely
|Primary election candidate list - Click "show"|
Nominating Conventions in Virginia
The candidate selection process in Virginia differs between the political parties. According to the Code of Virginia:
“The duly constituted authorities of the state political party shall have the right to determine the method by which a party nomination for a member of the United States Senate or for any statewide office shall be made. The duly constituted authorities of the political party for the district, county, city, or town in which any other office is to be filled shall have the right to determine the method by which a party nomination for that office shall be made.”
The Democratic Party in Virginia used conventions to select nominees for statewide offices between 1981 and 2001 before shifting to primaries. The Virginia Democratic Party switched to the convention format for the 1981 election cycle to moderate the party after independent candidate Henry Howell won the 1977 primary. The nominating convention proved successful for Democrats in the 1980s with the election of Chuck Robb in 1981, Gerald Baliles in 1985 and Douglas Wilder in 1989. The change back to primaries in 2001 took place because of significant losses in state elections by the Democrats in 1993 and 1997. The Democratic Party did not hold a gubernatorial primary in the 2001 and 2005 election cycles as Mark Warner and Tim Kaine ran unopposed.
The Republican Party in Virginia has used conventions to select nominees for statewide offices for much of its history. Republicans have only used primaries to nominate candidates in 1949, 1989, 1997 and 2005. The convention process used in most elections draws from delegates selected by Republicans during municipal and county conventions. The number of delegates per county depends on the strength of the Republican Party in past elections.
Delegates cast their votes on separate ballots for each statewide office. Any candidates who are uncontested automatically receive the party’s nomination. Contested races start with a ballot to determine if a candidate can surpass the 50% threshold. A candidate who wins more than 50% of first-round ballots receives the nomination for that office. If the first round of ballots does not clear this threshold, the two candidates with the fewest votes are eliminated. The balloting process cuts candidates in each round until three candidates remain. A ballot is taken to eliminate a third-place finisher and a final ballot is taken between the two remaining candidates.
|Attorney General of Virginia - 2013 Democratic Primary Race|
|Poll||Justin Fairfax||Mark Herring||Undecided||Margin of Error||Sample Size|
|Public Policy Polling|
(May 24-28, 2013)
|Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to|
Hypothetical general election match-ups
Herring releases first campaign video for 2013 attorney general.
The Virginia State Board of Elections administers campaign finance law and maintains all records online.
For the primary election:
For the general election:
- Mark Herring:
Herring's 2013 attorney general campaign has been endorsed by former Virginia House Minority Leader Ward Armstrong, former Virginia Democratic Party Chairman Brian Moran, and the following public officials:
For a complete list of Herring's endorsements, visit his official campaign website.
- Justin Fairfax:
- Rob Bell:
Bell's campaign has been endorsed by the following individuals:
For a complete list of Bell's supporters, visit his Official campaign website.
- 2013 Primary election review: Democratic Senators Northam and Herring advance to general election June 12, 2013
- Election preview: Virginia Democrats gear up for state executive primaries June 10, 2013
- 2013 Convention review: Obenshain and Jackson join Cuccinelli on GOP statewide ticket May 20, 2013
- 2013 Convention preview: Virginia Republicans set to nominate state executives this weekend May 17, 2013
- Ballots are set for Virginia state executive primary and convention April 10, 2013
- Virginia State Board of Elections
- Mark Herring - Official Campaign Website
- Rob Bell - Official Campaign Website
- Mark Obenshain - Official Campaign Website
- Justin Fairfax - Official Campaign Website
- Governing, "The 2013-2014 Attorneys General Races: Who's Vulnerable?," March 25, 2013
- The Washington Post, "Va. GOP settles on Cuccinelli, Obenshain and Jackson for November ballot," May 19, 2013
- Blue Virginia, "Virginia Primary Election Results Live Blog," June 11, 2013
- Politico, "Michael Bloomberg hits Virginia attorney general candidate," October 29, 2013
- Politico, "Planned Parenthood targets Mark Obenshain in ad," October 29, 2013
- Washington Post, "National Republican group gives an additional $660K to Obenshain campaign for Virginia AG," October 26, 2013
- The Washington Post, "Sen. Mark Herring to run for attorney general in 2013," July 24, 2012
- Washington Post, "Del. Bell to run for Virginia attorney general," December 5, 2011
- Code of Virginia, “Party to determine method of nominating its candidates for office; exceptions,” Accessed June 7, 2013
- Sabato’s Crystal Ball, “What Just Happened in Virginia?” May 20, 2013
- Richmond Times-Dispatch, "Virginia GOP convention: Jackson wins LG nomination as Snyder withdraws," May 18, 2013
- Washington Times, "Chesapeake bishop surprises, wins Va. GOP lieutenant governor nomination," May 19, 2013
- The Roanoke Times, "Former Del. Ward Armstrong won't run statewide in 2013," December 12, 2013
- Mark Herring for AG 2013, "Endorsements," accessed March 29, 2013
- Justin Fairfax for Virginia Attorney General, "Sen.-Elect Tim Kaine’s Treasurer Endorses Justin Fairfax for Virginia Attorney General, Will Join National Leader in the Legal Profession as Campaign Co-Chairs," December 20, 2012
State of Virginia
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