State Sen. Mark D. Obenshain (R) conceded the race for Virginia attorney general to Democrat Mark R. Herring on Wednesday, bringing the election to a belated end and giving Democrats a sweep of statewide offices — but throwing control of the state Senate into question. The move allowed Herring to claim victory for the third time since Nov. 5 in a contest that on election night was the closest statewide race in Virginia history. It also spared a three-judge panel in Richmond from having to continue slogging through more than 100 ballots that one side or the other had challenged. And for the first time since Election Day, speculation in Virginia political circles shifted from who would succeed Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R) to how differently the new attorney general would lead. Herring spent much of the campaign promising not to run the state’s law firm like Cuccinelli, a social conservative who waged high-profile battles against a climate scientist, “Obamacare” and universities with policies that protect gay people from discrimination.
“Virginians are looking for mainstream leadership,” Herring, a state senator from Loudoun County, said during an afternoon news conference in the Capitol on Wednesday. “They want good jobs. They want better education for their children. They want a good transportation system that will serve our growing economy.”
Obenshain conceded defeat after Herring’s attorney announced that his client’s narrow lead had grown to more than 800 in a statewide recount that began Monday and was scheduled to finish Wednesday.
That lead apparently grew even more after Obenshain’s concession. Although the recount court had not issued its official order as of 9 p.m. Wednesday, Herring attorney Marc E. Elias said the final results showed the Democrat winning the race by 907 votes.
“It’s apparent that our campaign is going to come up a few votes short,” Obenshain told reporters at an afternoon news conference on Richmond’s Capitol Square. Obenshain said he called his opponent to concede and offer his support as Herring prepares to assume office and added that he will continue to fight for conservative principles. But he also said that governing is “about reaching common ground.”