State Sen. Mark D. Obenshain (R) will concede the race for Virginia attorney general to Democrat Mark R. Herring on Wednesday, according to two people familiar with the decision. Obenshain’s announcement will put an end to a drawn-out contest that, on election night, was the closest statewide election in history. Obenshain campaign spokesman Paul Logan did not immediately respond to a call seeking comment Wednesday. Herring had significantly widened his slim lead over Obenshain in a statewide recount that began Monday and was scheduled to finish on Wednesday. The race to succeed Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R) had turned into a protracted nail-biter not only to determine who serves as Virginia’s top law-enforcement official but also to determine control of the evenly split state Senate. Herring and Obenshain are both state senators, and a win by either would have prompted a special election. And because Herring’s Loudoun County district is seen as very competitive, his win could cause Democrats to lose power in the evenly divided Senate. The GOP has a wide margin in the House.
Herring’s victory also seals the Democrats’ sweep of statewide offices this year, the first in nearly a generation; he joins Gov.-elect Terry McAuliffe and Lt. Gov.-elect Ralph Northam.
On Tuesday, Herring’s lead grew to more than 810 votes, with 73 percent of ballots across the state recounted, according to Herring’s campaign.
Fewer than 120 ballots had been “challenged,” the campaign said, meaning recount officials could not agree on how they should be counted and were planning to forward them to a special recount court in Richmond that was scheduled begin its work Wednesday.
The Democrat’s lead was between 811 and 866, depending on how many of the challenged ballots are ultimately counted, Herring attorney Marc Elias said in a conference call with reporters.
“We continue to gain margin at a steady pace, and we expect to continue to do so through the rest of the day and through the rest of the recount,” Elias said. “We remain confident that Mark Herring will be declared the winner of the recount.”