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    Attorney General Debate: Obenshain, Herring take the stage in Loudoun

    The two state senators battling to be Virginia's next attorney general, Republican Mark Obenshain and Democrat Mark Herring, hit their talking points and traded jabs Wednesday morning at a Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce-sponsored debate in Leesburg.

    The down-ticket statewide race has been shadowed by the mud-slinging, nationally-watched contest to be the commonwealth's next governor. That gubernatorial matchup, between Republican Ken Cuccinelli and Democrat Terry McAuliffe, has played no small role in the Obenshain-Herring race, particularly with Herring's efforts to paint his opponent as a clone of the fiercely conservative Cuccinelli.

    Herring, who represents Loudoun in the General Assembly, used the debate to continue zinging Obenshain for his views on social and women's health issues. Herring said the Republican wants to “dictate to women what they can and cannot do with their own bodies.”

    “In a Cuccinelli-Jackson-Obenshain Virginia, gays and lesbians in Virginia would be treated like second-class citizens,” he said.

    Obenshain countered by decrying Herring's charges as “false and negative” and that he – the Republican – is focused on ensuring a vibrant economy and safe communities in Virginia.

    “While I've been sharing my positive view and agenda about what I'm going to do as attorney general, Mark [Herring] has been traveling, engaging in this same kind of false, negative attacks focusing on social issues,” Obenshain said.

    In response, Herring said it's not a negative campaign if a candidate is simply pointing out his opponent's record. Engaging the Republican, Herring chided, “If I had your voting record, you know, I wouldn't want to talk about it either, and I'd consider it negative too.”

    On gay rights and women's health care, “it's important that voters know where the candidates stand on these issues,” Herring said.

    In 2007, Obenshain was a sponsor of House Bill 2797, which would've provided “that 'the right to enjoyment of life' guaranteed by [the Constitution of Virginia] is vested in each born and preborn human being from the moment of fertilization.” The measure, which eventually failed in the House of Delegates on a 43-53 vote, could have led to restrictions on women's access to contraception.

    Obenshain also initiated a bill that, by consequence, would've criminalized the failure of a woman to report a miscarriage to authorities. That proposal, Obenshain said in August, stemmed from an instance in Virginia in which a woman allegedly threw her dead baby in a dumpster. The senator said he was working to implement laws that would protect newborns, but he soon realized his legislation was too broad and struck it.

    From the get-go Wednesday, the Republican made clear he wanted to talk about how the attorney general can grow and preserve jobs. Obenshain has consistently blasted what he sees as over-regulation from the federal government and a general overreach from Washington.

    “Regulations are the number one job killer in America and we've got to refocus in the attorney general's office on regulatory review and reform,” Obenshain said. The Republican especially honed in against Environmental Protection Agency standards he says will hurt Virginia's coal country in the southwest region of the state.

    Moreover, Obenshain used the topic of business-friendliness to highlight the support big labor and unions have pledged to Herring.

    Transportation, which many power players who attended the debate consider an essential business issue, was a key talking point for Herring. The Democrat supported this year's bipartisan transportation bill that will pump millions of new transit dollars into the commonwealth's crumbling transit network, while Obenshain has voted against new transportation funding reforms on numerous occasions, including the historic legislation earlier this year.

    When the two candidates ventured away from firm ideological divides, they both agreed Medicaid fraud, elderly abuse and human trafficking are critical public safety items that must be addressed by the state's next top lawyer.

    Both Herring and Obenshain have said the state's ethics and financial disclosure laws need reforming, though Herring did so well before before his Republican opponent. Included in both candidates' ethics reform proposals are bans on gifts to elected officials and stronger penalties for lawmakers who break the rules. Only Herring has pushed for the creation of an ethics commission to examine any wrongdoing, while Obenshain exclusively has called for caps on contingency fees when the attorney general's office contracts with outside counsel.


    This story has been updated from an earlier version.

    Contact the writer at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


    Comments

    40-50% turnout would be amazing.  Last gubernatorial race only had 37% in Loudoun.  2011 was even lower for the local races.  If it is over 40, the GOP is in trouble.


    4termlimits - Which polls? Most polls I see show a 52-44 lead for Herring.


    Get out and vote—predictions are for only a 40 to 50% turn-out on 5 November.  Absentee balloting is also going on at the Sycolin Rd office of the Electoral board near the Leesburg Airport (closes at 5:30PM daily).  Make sure that the Mark Herring who understand Loudoun County and has a proven record for honesty and integrity along with the rest of the Dem ticket gets elected. We don’t need TEA Party Republicans who are on CRUZ CONTROL here.


    Herring showed passion and concern about lack of integrity and ethics current AG displays.  Obenshain appeared mealy-mouthed.  (Constitution sounds like bitter loser of race against Herring)


    Herring looked like he was sweating it, uncomfortable and jittery. This is his home county and Obenshain made him look like a petty, little, ineffective man. That is how he has operated in the Senate, his reputation is one of, well, very little.


    Fedupdude,
    Unfortunately, the only polls I can find show either a dead heat or Obenshain up.  I only hope they’re wrong.  Just make sure you get out and vote!  I love VA but the thoughts of a Coocoonelli/Obenshame administration is too much to bear…


    Nowhere does Obenshain really refute the charges that his social positions are radical.  He just says they should talk about something else. 

    Sorry pal, you are on the record as being an extremist.  It is a major issue in your race.  It isn’t going away, nor should it.


    It’s important for Virginia voters to know that Obenshain is one in the same with Cuccinelli and Jackson. He tones down his rhetoric compared to the others on the ticket, but his voting record shows how socially conservative he is. Probably the craziest memory I have of Obenshain is when he was on the JMU board of visitors and had the board ban the morning after pill from JMU’s health center! I don’t understand why some politicians feel the need to regulate access to birth control.


    Is there really a battle? Isn’t Mark Herring way ahead in polls? Obenshain is just too extreme

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