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In stump-style speech, AG Herring touts accomplishments, rips Republicans

PHILADELPHIA – Mark Herring isn't seeking a promotion in 2017, but he is running to keep his job.

And he sure sounded like it Thursday morning.

Herring, the Democratic attorney general of Virginia, closed out a delegation breakfast on the final day of the Democratic National Convention here with a notably political speech that emphasized his advocacy for same-sex marriage and LGBT rights, allowing in-state tuition for the children of illegal immigrants and fighting against climate change.

“I'm so proud of what we've been able to do to fight for justice and equality and opportunity for all Virginians,” Herring said. “I'll be the first to admit that, yes, some of the actions we have taken have generated some criticism from predictable corners. You'll remember they tried to impeach me. They tried to disbar me. But it was hearing the stories of people who have told me what it has meant to them to have an attorney general stand up and fight for them and protect them that has helped me get through that and push through all that negativity and stand up for people.”

Instead of launching a gubernatorial bid in 2017 – something that had been speculated – Herring opted instead to seek reelection as the state's top lawyer, thus avoiding a primary battle with Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam for the Democrats' gubernatorial nomination.

But with attorney general elections in the commonwealth famous for being close calls, Herring is dusting off his campaign cred.

In speaking about last week's convention in Cleveland, Herring ripped Republicans, saying he felt like he was “watching a presidential convention out of a movie like 'Mad Max.'”

“People shouting. speaker after speaker trying to intimidate and strike fear in people,” he said. By contrast, Democrats are all about “inclusion and optimism,” he added.

A Loudoun County resident, Herring has earned the affection of Virginia Democrats and the ire of Republicans for his progressive stances, which include choosing not to defend the state's ban on same-sex marriage and ruling that the children of undocumented immigrants can earn in-state tuition at Virginia's universities.

The attorney general also touched on the opioid and heroin epidemic, something his office has worked to combat through awareness and town halls across the state.

“I can't tell you what it meant to a family to know their attorney general feels their pain,” Herring said.

Republicans expected to seek the state's attorney general post currently include state Del. Rob Bell; John Adams, a former U.S. attorney and White House aide; and Chuck Smith, a former chair the Republican Party of Virginia Beach and congressional candidate.

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