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Virginia Attorney General election, 2013

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The Virginia attorney general election will be held on November 5, 2013 following a Democratic primary election on June 11, 2013 and a Republican statewide convention on May 17-18, 2013.

Incumbent Ken Cuccinelli (R) opted to run for governor rather than seek a second term as attorney general in 2013.

Race background

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.[1]

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"[1] -- 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.[2] 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.[3][1]

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.[4][5] 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.[6]

Deadline Event
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


Democratic primary election

Attorney General of Virginia Democratic Primary Election, 2013
Candidate Vote % Votes
Green check mark transparent.pngMark Herring 51.7% 72,861
Justin Fairfax 48.3% 68,177
Total Votes 141,038
Election Results via Virginia State Board of Elections.

General election

Coming November 5, 2013

General election

Note: Recount likely

Nominating Conventions in Virginia

The candidate selection process in Virginia differs between the political parties. According to the Code of Virginia:[9]

“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.”

Democratic Party

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.[10]

Republican Party

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.[10] 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.[11]

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.[12]

Attorney General of Virginia
Poll Mark Herring (D) Mark Obenshain (R)Not sureMargin of ErrorSample Size
Public Policy Poll
(May 24-28, 2013)
Roanoke University Poll
(July 8-14, 2013)
Public Policy Poll
(July 11-14, 2013)
Roanoke University Poll
(September 30 - October 5, 2013)
Christopher Newport Poll
(October 1-6, 2013)
Public Policy Poll (Early voters)
(October 19-20, 26-27, 2013)
Washington Post/Abt-SRBI Poll
(October 24-27, 2013)
Garin Hart Young Poll
(October 22-23, 2013)
Christopher Newport University Poll of Likely Voters
(October 25-30, 2013)
AVERAGES 41.56% 39.89% 18.11% +/-2.24 862.78
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-up (May 2013)

Attorney General of Virginia - 2013 Hypothetical General Election Match-up
Poll Justin Fairfax (D) Mark Obenshain (R)Not sureMargin of ErrorSample 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

Democratic primary (May 2013)

Attorney General of Virginia - 2013 Democratic Primary Race
Poll Justin Fairfax Mark HerringUndecidedMargin of ErrorSample 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

Mark Obenshain

"Mark and Tucker" features Obenshain's daughter touting his record advocating for "mandatory life sentences for child predators and protecting families from abusive spouses." Released September 24, 2013

"Trust," the second ad of his campaign, recaps message of previous ad, highlighting Obenshain's toughness on handling domestic violence and sex crimes. Released October 1, 2013

Mark Herring

"Family" - Herring's first 2013 campaign ad addresses the state senator's decision to back a transportation funding bill in order to "to get folks out of their cars and home to their families." Released September 27, 2013

The Virginia State Board of Elections administers campaign finance law and maintains all records online.

For the primary election:

  • First Pre-Primary -- due by June 3
  • 8-Day Pre-Primary report -- due by June 3, 2013
  • Post-Primary report -- due by July 15, 2013

For the general election:

  • First Pre-General report -- due by October 15, 2013
  • 8-Day Pre-General report -- due by October 28, 2013
  • Post-General report -- due by December 5, 2013

Mark Herring

Mark Herring[13] Campaign Finance Reports
ReportDate FiledBeginning BalanceTotal Contributions
for Reporting Period
ExpendituresCash on Hand
Post-Primary ReportJuly 15, 2013$229,180.18$206,361.40$(666,172.95)$127,680.99
Running totals

Mark Obenshain

Mark Obenshain[14] Campaign Finance Reports
ReportDate FiledBeginning BalanceTotal Contributions
for Reporting Period
ExpendituresCash on Hand
Post-Primary ReportJuly 15, 2013$68,132.75$479,915.89$(745,285.67)$487,044.36
Running totals



  • 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:[15][16]

  • Members of the State Senate:

Sen. George Barker (Fairfax)
Sen. Chuck Colgan (Prince William)
Sen. Adam Ebbin (Alexandria)
Sen. John Edwards (Roanoke)
Sen. Barbara Favola (Arlington)
Fmr. Sen. Edd Houck (Spotsylvania)
Sen. Janet Howell (Fairfax)
Sen. Mamie Locke (Hampton)
Sen. Louise Lucas (Portsmouth)
Sen. Dave Marsden (Fairfax)
Sen. Henry Marsh (Richmond)
Sen. Donald McEachin (Henrico)
Sen. John Miller (Newport News)
Sen. Phil Puckett (Russell)
Fmr. Sen. Patsy Ticer (Alexandria)
Fmr. Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple (Arlington)

  • Members of the House of Delegates:

Fmr. Del. Ward Armstrong (Henry)
Del. Mayme BaCote (Newport News)
Del. Bob Brink (Arlington)
Del. David Bulova (Fairfax)
Del. Eileen Filler-Corn (Fairfax)
Del. Charniele Herring (Alexandria)
Del. Patrick Hope (Arlington)
Del. Algie Howell (Norfolk)
Del. Matthew James (Portsmouth)
Del. Joe Johnson (Abingdon)
Del. Rob Krupicka (Alexandria)
Del. Alfonso Lopez (Alexandria)
Del. Delores McQuinn (Richmond)
Del. Joe Morrissey (Henrico)
Del. Ken Plum (Fairfax)
Del. Mark Sickles (Fairfax)
Del. Lionell Spruill (Chesapeake)
Del. David Toscano (Charlottesville)
Del. Luke Torian (Prince William)
Fmr. Del. Katherine Waddell (Richmond)
Del. Vivian Watts (Fairfax)

  • Mayors:

Hon. David Bowers (Roanoke)
Hon. Trent Crewe (Wytheville)
Hon. Paul Fraim (Norfolk)
Hon. Michael Gillette (Lynchburg)
Hon. Earnie Porta (Occoquan)
Hon. Kristen Umstattd (Leesburg)
Hon. Molly Ward (Hampton)

  • County Supervisors:

Fmr. Sup. Hon. Susan Buckley (Loudoun)
Hon. John Foust (Fairfax)
Hon. Penelope Gross (Fairfax)
Hon. Gerald Hyland (Fairfax)
Hon. John Jenkins (Prince William)
Hon. Fred Luntsford (Wise)
Hon. Jeff McKay (Fairfax)
Hon. Tyrone Nelson (Henrico)
Fmr. Sup. Hon. John Peace (Wise)
Hon. Frank Principi (Prince William)
Hon. Ronnie Short (Wise)
Hon. Frank Thornton (Henrico)

For a complete list of Herring's endorsements, visit his official campaign website.

  • Justin Fairfax:

Fairfax has been endorsed by Sen. Tim Kaine’s 2012 U.S. Senate Campaign Treasurer and Virginia Businessman Warren Thompson.[17]


  • Rob Bell:

Bell's campaign has been endorsed by the following individuals:

5th Congressional District

Congressman Robert Hurt

Albemarle County

Sheriff Chip Harding

Honorable Ken Boyd, County Supervisor

Honorable Rodney Thomas, County Supervisor

Amelia County

Honorable Jim Bennett, County Supervisor

Bland County

Honorable Nick Asbury, County Supervisor & Republican Committee Chair

Botetourt County

Delegate Christopher Head

Buchanan County

Honorable Roger Rife, Chairman of the Board of Supervisors

Campbell County

Delegate Matt Fariss

Caroline County

Delegate Robert Orrock

Jeff Sili, Republican Committee Chair


Honorable Rick West, City Councilor

Honorable Nancy Parr, Commonwealth’s Attorney

Dr. John de Triquet, Vice Mayor

Honorable Christie New Craig, Vice Chairman, Chesapeake School Board

Chesterfield County

Delegate Roxann Robinson

Sheriff Dennis Proffitt

City of Hopewell

Sheriff Greg Anderson

Colonial Heights

Delegate Kirk Cox

Honorable C. Scott Davis, Mayor


Delegate Daniel Marshall III


Carla Harris, Republican Committee Chair

Woody Harris, Emporia City Council


Delegate David Albo

Delegate Thomas Rust

Honorable John C. Cook, County Supervisor

Honorable John Peterson, Director NOVA SWCD

Fauquier County

Honorable Lee Sherbeyn, County Supervisor

Fluvanna County

Honorable Jeff Haislip, Commonwealth’s Attorney

Debbie Rittenhouse, Republican Committee Chair

Franklin County

Delegate Charles Poindexter

Giles County

Mae Midkiff, Republican Committee Chair

Grayson County

State Senator Bill Carrico

Greene County

Sheriff Steven Smith

Gary Lowe, Republican Committee Chair

Halifax County

Delegate James Edmunds

Hanover County

Delegate Christopher Peace

Honorable Trip Chalkley, Commonwealth’s Attorney

Sheriff Dave Hines

Honorable Wayne Hazzard, County Supervisor

Former Delegate Frank Hargrove

Honorable Sean Davis, County Supervisor

Henrico County

Delegate John O’Bannon

Former Delegate Bill Janis

Sheriff Mike Wade

Isle of Wight County

Delegate Rick Morris

Bill Coburn, Republican Committee Chair

Loudoun County

Delegate Tag Greason

Delegate Joe May

Delegate David Ramadan

Louisa County

State Senator Tom Garrett

Bob Arment, Republican Committee Chair

Lunenburg County

Delegate Thomas Wright Jr.

Mike Hankins, Republican Committee Chair

Madison County

Delegate Edward Scott

Honorable George Webb, Commonwealth’s Attorney

William Harvill, Republican Committee Chair

Manassas City

Steven Thomas, Republican Committee Chair

Newport News

Hazel Call, Hampton Roads Republican Women Chair


Joyce Mathews, Republican Committee Secretary

Nottoway County

Ronald L. Chipper, Republican Committee Chair

Orange County

Doug Rogers, Republican Committee Chair

Sheriff Mark Amos

Honorable Diana Wheeler, Commonwealth’s Attorney


Debra Mallory, 1st Vice Chair Tri-City Republican Women

Pittsylvania County

Delegate Donald Merricks

Chris Carter, Former Republican Committee Chair


Delegate Gordon Helsel, Jr.

Paul Keddell, Republican Committee Chair


Honorable Ted Lamb, School Board

Powhatan County

Delegate Lee Ware Jr.

Prince George County

Barbara Tabb, Former Republican Committee Chair

Prince William County

Delegate Richard Anderson

Delegate Jackson Miller

Honorable Peter Candland, County Supervisor


Jerilynn Grigsby, Tuckahoe Republican Women Chair

Roanoke County

Former Delegate William Fralin

Scott County

Delegate Terry Kilgore

Spotsylvania County

Delegate Mark Cole

Stafford County

Delegate Mark Dudenhefer

Delegate William Howell, Speaker, House of Delegates

Tazewell County

Delegate James W. Morefield

Virginia Beach

Delegate Salvatore Iaquinto

Delegate Barry Knight

Delegate Harry Purkey

Delegate Christopher Stolle

Delegate Ronald Villanueva

Honorable Patrick Salyer, School Board Member

Washington County

Delegate Israel O’Quinn

Westmoreland County

Delegate Margaret Ransone

For a complete list of Bell's supporters, visit his Official campaign website.

See also

External links

Suggest a link


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Governing, "The 2013-2014 Attorneys General Races: Who's Vulnerable?," March 25, 2013
  2. The Washington Post, "Va. GOP settles on Cuccinelli, Obenshain and Jackson for November ballot," May 19, 2013
  3. Blue Virginia, "Virginia Primary Election Results Live Blog," June 11, 2013
  4. Politico, "Michael Bloomberg hits Virginia attorney general candidate," October 29, 2013
  5. Politico, "Planned Parenthood targets Mark Obenshain in ad," October 29, 2013
  6. Washington Post, "National Republican group gives an additional $660K to Obenshain campaign for Virginia AG," October 26, 2013
  7. The Washington Post, "Sen. Mark Herring to run for attorney general in 2013," July 24, 2012
  8. Washington Post, "Del. Bell to run for Virginia attorney general," December 5, 2011
  9. Code of Virginia, “Party to determine method of nominating its candidates for office; exceptions,” Accessed June 7, 2013
  10. 10.0 10.1 Sabato’s Crystal Ball, “What Just Happened in Virginia?” May 20, 2013
  11. Richmond Times-Dispatch, "Virginia GOP convention: Jackson wins LG nomination as Snyder withdraws," May 18, 2013
  12. Washington Times, "Chesapeake bishop surprises, wins Va. GOP lieutenant governor nomination," May 19, 2013
  13. Virginia State Board of Elections, "Campaign Finance Report: Mark Herring for Attorney General," July 15, 2013
  14. Virginia State Board of Elections, "Campaign Finance Report: Obenshain for Attorney General," July 15, 2013
  15. The Roanoke Times, "Former Del. Ward Armstrong won't run statewide in 2013," December 12, 2013
  16. Mark Herring for AG 2013, "Endorsements," accessed March 29, 2013
  17. 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