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Obenshain concedes; Herring wins historic attorney general race

Democratic state Sen. Mark Herring, pictured here after his primary win in the summer, is the undisputed attorney general-elect following Mark Obenshain’s concession Dec. 18. Times-Mirror File Photo
Republican state Sen. Mark Obenshian on Dec. 18 conceded the 2013 Virginia attorney general race to Democratic state Sen. Mark Herring, making Herring the first Loudoun County senator elected attorney general of Virginia in the history of the commonwealth.

Obenshain announced the decision during an afternoon press conference in Richmond, saying he was proud of the campaign he ran, but, in the end, came up just a few votes short.

"I could not be more grateful for the incredible hard work of friends, supporters and grassroots volunteers all over Virginia," Obenshain noted on Twitter.

Herring, at his own press conference in the capital city, graciously accepted Obenshain's concession.

Herring said he'll “wake up each and every day ready to fight for justice, equality and opportunity for all Virginians.”

“Virginians are looking for mainstream leadership,” the Democrat said. “They're looking to have leadership in our state government that is focused on the issues that are of the most concern to Virginians. They want good jobs, they want a better education for their children, they want a good transportation system that is going to serve our growing economy.”

The Virginia Board of Elections in late November certified Herring as the winner of the Nov. 5 contest by a mere 165 votes out of more than 2.2 million cast. At that point, the race was the closest statewide election in modern Virginia politics.

Obenshain quickly announced his intent to call for a recount, which began in select counties Dec. 16 and the rest of the commonwealth Dec. 17. The recount was scheduled to run through Dec. 19, but given the jurisdictions that had reported through Dec. 18 and Herring's increasing lead, Obenshain decided to halt the weeks-running election.

Officially, following the recount, the 2013 attorney general race went to Herring by 907 votes – Herring 1,105,045 and Obenshain 1,104,138.

With Democrats Terry McAuliffe and Ralph Northam winning the governorship and lieutenant governorship, respectively, Herring's victory was the key to the Dems' first statewide sweep of the top three offices since 1989.

Herring's win also marks the first time since 1969 Democrats will hold the five statewide offices: the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general and both U.S. Senate seats.

There will be special elections to select Herring and Northam's replacements in the 20-Republican, 20-Democrat Senate of Virginia.

Locally, the special contest for Herring's seat will be a three-way bid. Democrat Jennifer Wexton, Republican John Whitbeck and state Del. Joe May (R-33rd), running an independent candidacy, are squaring off in an election expected to be held sometime in January.

This story has been updated from an earlier version.

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