The Virginia attorney general’s race was a virtual dead heat and headed for a recount early Wednesday morning, with Republican State Sen. Mark D. Obenshain clinging to a 778-vote lead over Democratic State Sen. Mark Herring with 2.1 million ballots cast, according to an unofficial Associated Press count. State election law provides for the trailing candidate to request a recount if the margin is less that 1 percent of the total vote. Speaking to reporters just before midnight, Herring (D-Leesburg) said he would request a recount. “The race for attorney general is razor-close, and the commonwealth has a process to make sure all the votes are counted, and we are going to make sure we go through that process. Right now, it’s basically 50-50 and the numbers have been moving in our direction all night. The race is far from over. And we are going to make sure we follow the process and make sure every single vote is counted.”
Minutes after Obenshain’s staff said he would appear in a Richmond ballroom, the chairman of the Virginia Republican Party, Pat Mullins, announced that Obenshain would have no remarks because the party was preparing for a recount.
“While the results at this point are very close, I’m pleased to be ahead in the vote count tonight. I’m confident that that we will prevail,” Obenshain said in a statement issued early Wednesday morning.
Obenshain (R-Harrisonburg) appeared to be headed for victory early Tuesday evening on the basis of his double digit advantage over Herring among independent voters. Among independents, preliminary exit poll data showed Obenshain with a 16 percentage-point lead over Herring. He also ran up big margins in solidly Republican central and western Virginia.