State Sen. Mark Herring (D-33rd), the Democratic candidate in this year's attorney general race, unveiled endorsements from several Republicans Wednesday, including Purcellville Mayor Bob Lazaro and former state lawmakers Russ Potts and Anne Rhodes.
The endorsements from across the aisle fall in line with focused efforts by the Herring campaign to court moderate and independent voters -- especially by trying to paint the Republican candidate, state Sen. Mark Obenshain (R-26th), as a Tea Party ideologue.
The Obenshain camp, meanwhile, says the Republican nominee has “pledged to run a campaign based on substance and his positive vision."
“[Obenshain is] rolling out detailed policy proposals to combat elder abuse and on other ways to keep our communities safe and make Virginia a better place to live and work,” Chris Leavitt, the Obenshain campaign manager, said in August.
On a press call Wednesday, Potts and former state Del. Katherine Waddell (I) explained their support for Herring.
“Mark Herring is the type of leader Virginia needs: one who knows how to set aside political partisanship and make reasonable compromises in order to make progress for our Commonwealth,” Potts said. “On transportation, on economic development and on public safety, Mark Herring has a proven record of working with Republicans and Democrats to move Virginia forward.”
“Obenshain has been trying to obscure his extreme record because he knows voters will reject his politics,” Waddell noted. “Sen. Obenshain would turn back the clock on women’s reproductive rights. He sponsored the ‘personhood bill’ with Ken Cuccinelli and he called the transvaginal ultrasound bill ‘common sense legislation.’”
Herring has also garnered support from a number of strong interest groups, including the Virginia Police Benevolent Association, the Virginia Education Association, Virginia AFL-CIO and Virginia Association of Realtors
On the Republican side, the Obenshain campaign has touted endorsements from the Virginia Farm Bureau AgPAC, the largest farmers' advocacy group in the commonwealth; 56 of the state's commonwealth attorneys – 22 independents and 34 Republicans; and Republican state Sen. Marty Williams, who has endorsed the Democratic candidate for governor the past two election cycles.
One of the the independent commonwealth's attorneys, Art Goff of Rappahannock County, said Obenshain's “legislative record reflects a commitment to effective prosecution of violent and predatory sexual offenders.”
“I know Mark to be soundly conservative, but pragmatic as well and willing to hear the views of others and to seek a common ground,” Goff said. “Mark is an excellent, thorough lawyer with trial experience. He obviously knows the law in Virginia. He is an effective advocate for his clients and has won the trust and confidence of the Bar and the Bench. With such qualifications, I am very sure that Virginia will be served well by Mark Obenshain."
Correction: This story has been updated to clarify that Sen. Mark Obenshain has been endorsed by 56 commonwealth's attorneys – 22 independents and 34 Republicans.