Update: Herring holds lead in seesawing attorney general race
State Sen. Mark Herring, a Loudoun Democrat, is the winner of the 2013 attorney general race following a week-long canvass by the local boards of elections across the commonwealth.
Herring edged Republican state Sen. Mark Obenshain, of Harrisonburg, by 163 votes out of more than 2.2 million cast.
A recount is expected after the results are certified by the state Board of Elections Nov. 25.
Herring and Obenshain released the following statements tonight after the final tallies came in:
Herring: “Voters in Virginia have spoken, their voices have been heard and I am honored to have won their votes and their trust to become Virginia’s next Attorney General. Over the course of the past week, a thorough and extensive process has ensured that every vote has been tallied and accounted for. The margin was close, but it is clear that Virginians have chosen me to serve as the next Attorney General.
“Today we begin the process of governing. I look forward to working with Virginians from all regions and all background, Democrats, Independents and Republicans to move our Commonwealth forward.”
Obenshain: “At this stage, we are in the closest statewide election in Virginia history. The State Board of Elections currently estimates a difference of fewer than 200 votes out of more than 2 million votes cast. That's less than 1/100th of a percent difference. With the completion of the canvass of local boards, we have finished two of the three automatic steps of vote counting. The State Board of Elections will now conduct its own review, scheduled to be complete November 25th. We owe it to the people of Virginia to make sure we get it right, and that every legitimate vote is counted and subject to uniform rules. We have seen significant swings in the vote count over the last several days as errors are corrected as a part of the regular canvass process. The State Board of Elections will now conduct its own review and we will await their results. I thank our dedicated election officials who have put in long hours and given great care to their duty. We will make further announcements in the days ahead."
Original Story: Nov. 12, 5:02 p.m.
As of 5 p.m. Tuesday, Democratic state Sen. Mark Herring held the lead over his Republican challenger, state Sen. Mark Obenshain, in the ongoing, week-old election to be Virginia's next attorney general.
Herring, of Loudoun, held a 117-vote edge over Obenshain, from Harrisonburg, in the statewide contest certain to go down as one of the closest – if not the closest – in Virginia history.
More than 2.2 million votes were cast in the race.
Herring snagged the lead Monday evening, and he carried it throughout the day Tuesday. Obenshain was ahead for the duration of the past weekend.
Local election boards' tabulations have changed consistently since Election Day because of what many poll workers have called standard human and electronic error.
Regardless of the outcome after the results are certified by the state Board of Elections Nov. 25, it's a near-certainty the losing candidate will call for a recount, which could take several weeks to complete.
In 2005, now-Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican, won his bid for attorney general after a recount was conducted. McDonnell eventually defeated Democrat Creigh Deeds by 323 votes, according to the Virginia Public Access Project. The outcome of that race was not declared until December that year.
In a fundraising email Tuesday, Herring's campaign manager, Kevin O'Holleran, said the next 12 hours were pivotal and that “the GOP will do everything they can to steal this victory from us.”
“Like we’ve said all along, we are going to win this race. But tonight is a critical deadline – at midnight, local election officials need to submit their vote counts to the State Board of Elections,” O'Holleran stated.
The attorney general's race is the Republican Party of Virginia's final hope to avoid a statewide sweep in last Tuesday's elections that sent Democrats Terry McAuliffe to the governor's mansion and state Sen. Ralph Northam to the lieutenant governor post.
Obenshain's campaign, despite trailing, remained optimistic Tuesday evening.
“The race is extremely close,” Obenshain campaign spokesman Paul Logan said. “We are confident that we will prevail. We’re going to wait until the State Board of Elections finishes its tabulations and make sure that every legitimate vote is counted. The process is ongoing.”
Herring won his home county of Loudoun comfortably, earning 47,349 votes to Obenshain's 41,316.