State Board of Elections certifies Mark Herring winner in attorney general race

The State Board of Elections voted unanimously Monday to certify Democrat Mark Herring as the winner in the hotly-contested state attorney general race. Herring defeated Republican Mark Obenshain by 165 votes out of the more than 2.2 million votes cast in the Nov. 5 election, easily the closest margin percentage-wise in state political history.

mark herringThere’s no word as of early Monday afternoon as to whether Obenshain, a Harrisonburg state senator, will file for a recount or a contest of the election. He has 10 business days from today to do so, and signaled Monday that a decision will be made in the coming days.

“Margins this small are why Virginia law provides a process for a recount,” Obenshain said. “However, a decision to request a recount, even in this historically close election, is not one to be made lightly. Virginia law allows 10 days to request a recount. We will make further announcements regarding a recount well within that time, in order to ensure the closure and confidence in the results that Virginians deserve.”

The 2005 state attorney general between Republican Bob McDonnell and Democrat Creigh Deeds came down to a recount. McDonnell was certified as the victor by a 323-vote margin, and eventually won by 360 votes after the recount.

McDonnell later defeated Deeds in a rematch of the 2005 race in 2009 when the two ran against each other for governor. McDonnell’s landslide victory in that race fueled a GOP sweep of the state offices.

Herring’s victory in the 2013 AG race would finalize a Democratic sweep of the state races in this cycle. Terry McAuliffe was elected governor, and Ralph Northam was elected lieutenant governor in results also certified today by the State Board of Elections.

“I extend my congratulations to Gov.-elect Terry McAuliffe, Lt. Gov.-elect Ralph Northam, and Attorney General-elect Mark Herring. I also extend my gratitude to the State Board and local registrars who worked tirelessly to ensure every vote was counted and every voice was heard,” Democratic Party of Virginia chair Del. Charniele Herring said in a statement Monday.

Of note is that State Board of Elections chair Charles E. Judd, while voting with the board to certify the statewide election results, said that he was doing “with question” in regard to Herring’s election.

“I’m concerned about the integrity of the data,” he said, according to the Washington Post, during today’s board meeting. “I’m concerned about the lack of uniformity, that there be no differences in any of the localities in how votes are counted.”

Obenshain, in his comments following the certification announcement, noted that there have been four statewide elections since 2000 with margins of 300 votes or less, and that the winner was reversed by recount in three of those four races.

Herring, for his part, is forging ahead, for now, at the least, as the incoming attorney general.

“I am gratified that the State Board of Elections today certified me the winner of a close but fair election,” Herring said in a statement Monday. “I look forward to serving the people of Virginia as Attorney General. I want to thank and commend the State Board, local voter registrars and election officials, their extraordinary staff and volunteers for their diligent and professional work to bring this historic election to a close. There is no greater American duty than to simply ensure that every voter may freely exercise his or her right to vote, and no greater American tradition than to make sure that that vote is counted.

“Today, we move forward to tackle some of the unique challenges of our era which fall under the auspices of the next attorney general of the Commonwealth of Virginia,” Herring said. “Our guiding principle will be to put the law and Virginians first, instead of adherence to extreme ideology. In the areas of public safety, veterans services, civil rights, consumer and small business protections, and ethics in our public sphere, significant progress can and will be made for Virginians.”


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