Obenshain to concede AG racePolitics

And this is how the 2013 election ends:

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 protracted 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.

With Mark Herring piling up a wider lead in the recount, there was no plausible way Obenshain could have contested the results before the General Assembly (nevermind the rather novel suggestion that a new election for the office be held).

Obenshain remains the GOP frontrunner for the 2017 gubernatorial nomination. Accepting this result helps him solidify this position.


Here is Mark’s statement following the recount. He’s a class act. Interesting to note how he bats down the idea of a contest — “Today is not the time to contest the process or question the results.”

And his words on the Virginia tradition of putting aside “old fights” and getting on with business are on target.

  • http://www.brianschoeneman.org/ Brian W. Schoeneman

    The “novel suggestion” also has the benefit of being completely illegal.

    I’m saddened to see Senator Obenshain didn’t win, but I’m glad that the process was fair and the recounts were all handled properly (as far as I am aware – I can only be certain that Fairfax County’s was held properly).

    • JReynolds79

      Brian, you should be commended for your efforts. Once the emotion subsides, I’m hoping those people who lost their cool will realize their mistakes. Principle is principle. And we have to maintain it at all costs (as you’ve done) lest we risk losing more credibility.

    • Not Harry F. Byrd

      Brian, my understanding is that the GA does have the right to order a new election under the statute. I’m not arguing for that, mind you (I think had it somehow come to that it would have been a far better option than declaring Obie the winner, but that’s no longer relevant). Nor am I quibbling with your work.

      It was just my understanding of the statute. Is that wrong?

    • DJRippert

      Brian – you should run for Frank Wolf’s seat. It’s time we had somebody in Congress who we can trust.

      • midwestconservative

        I think he lives in Connolly’s district.

      • http://www.brianschoeneman.org/ Brian W. Schoeneman

        I’m in the 11th. Not interested in running for Congress. But thanks for even thinking I’d be qualified.

  • JReynolds79

    “Obenshain remains the GOP frontrunner for the 2017 gubernatorial
    nomination. Accepting this result helps him solidify this position.”

    Only if our intent is to preemptively lose 2017. His record is almost identical to Cuccinelli’s, but he isn’t nearly as cerebral. The primary reason the results in this race weren’t farther apart is due to Obenshain remaining under the radar for as long as possible. He campaigned on bread-and-butter AG issues (i.e. tough on crime, etc.), and avoided the social policies that have become our Achilles heel. That being said, if anyone thinks he won’t fare far worse than Ken in the population centers throughout the state they are sadly mistaken. MO would be taken to task for being the embodiment of the religious right, and promptly caricatured as such-marginalizing himself and causing chaos down-ballot.

    And before anyone mentions that Ken “kept it close,” I can’t imagine the Democrats will be running another Terry McAuliffe. Not to mention the fact that demographic trends in the state (and nation-wide) are not favorable to our current messaging.

    Democrats know they’re currently winning the campaign game. Lets not prove to them they’re winning on the candidate recruitment front as well.

    • midwestconservative

      Ralph Northam and Mark Herring ran worse campaigns then Terry McAuliffe, one or the other will run in 2017, and quite possibly both. They ran dull, boring campaigns. Northam’s campaign was only slightly better then Herring’s and looked magnificent compared to his GOP opponent, but it wasn’t “good” by any means. Herring’s campaign really only benefitted from Terry’s money. If both run, Democrats will be divided in 2017, in ways they weren’t this year.
      The GOP suffered from many problems but one of them was definitely disunity. That won’t happen in 2017.
      Out of all the candidates that ran this year Obenshain ran the best campaign, and the only one that can be considered “good”, He had no gaffes, he had no stumbles, and he unified the party behind him. ( if not behind the rest of the ticket) If that happens in 2017, Obenshain won’t be “preemptively losing”
      Did Social Issues cost McDonnell the election in 09?

      • Not Harry F. Byrd

        Northam sleepwalked through the campaign. It’s one of the laziest efforts I’ve ever seen of a statewide Democratic effort. We’re talking Deeds-like laziness. Fortunately for him, we chose to forfeit that position in May. But Dems also noticed his disaster of a campaign and they won’t forget in 2017.

        • midwestconservative

          Exactly, I mean either Northam and Herring are bad candidates for 2017, despite their victories, they ran bad campaigns. And unlike T-Mac they won’t have access to 34 million.

      • JReynolds79

        McDonnell largely avoided social issues in 2009 (re: “Bob’s for Jobs”), and to say the political landscape was different then would be a gross understatement-the “War on Women” trope hadn’t set-in, the Tea Party movement hadn’t developed, the electorate (and base) wasn’t as polarized, Republicans hadn’t taken the blame for the shutdown, etc., etc.

        We can debate the merits of each. But we can’t deny the fact that ’13 was far worse than ’09, and ’17 is likely to be even less hospitable to Republicans than ’13. The state’s demographics aren’t shifting in a favorable direction considering our currently platform (check registration numbers relative to polling), and we have very few candidates with crossover appeal in the wings.

        The reality of the situation is our traditional base is eroding. And we can choose to get ahead of the problem by messaging to “non-traditional” subsets of the population, or we can remain obstinate and slowly fade into irrelevance. But regardless of what we decide to do, the “game” will continue to change with or without us.

        • midwestconservative

          “The Sky is Falling!!”
          You honestly think that you can predict what an electorate will be four years out?
          Let’s be clear Cuccinelli largely avoided social issues in 2013, but then of course Cuccinelli was being outspent by 15 million and had to defend an ultrasound law that BOB SIGNED!
          Lets also be clear, Bob McDonnell ran as a conservative in 09, everybody outside of NOVA knew his position on social issues.
          I also remember that the narrative “social issues lost us the election” was being prepped back in 09, until Bob won in a landslide.
          2013 isn’t in anyway comparable to 2017. The VA GOP was divided this year, and grossly outspent. That won’t be happening in 2017.
          Right now Dems have two prospective candidates for 2017, both of whom might decide to slug it out in a primary.

          • JReynolds79

            If you want to win in politics you always have to keep the next cycle in mind. And if you want to continue winning in politics, you must possess some predictive capabilities lest you do today what will destroy you tomorrow (just ask Ken about that one).

          • midwestconservative

            Here’s a prediction.
            The VA GOP will be unified in 2017 similar to the way they were in 09 and directly opposite to what they were doing this year.
            The VA Democrats will be fighting amongst themselves about who is more “electable” the guy who could barely win the AG race (Herring) and is from NOVA ( downstate dems are starting to chafe at NOVA’s influence)
            Or the guy who won the most votes in 2013 and is from a swing district ( but at the same time once threatened to switch parties)
            Neither of those guys ran good campaigns this year and benefited from T-Mac’s money, GOP disunity, and in the case of Northam a laughable opponent.
            They will also be forced to defend any votes they made in the GA ( same as Obenshain) and any thing they did during their tenure in their respective constitutional offices.
            They will also be defending Terry McAuliffe’s record as Governor which will either a) be very unaccomplished or b) controversial due to T-Mac’s use of the EO to do whatever he wants he thinks he can get away with.
            Either way I doubt T-Mac will help raise 34 million for whoever the Donks run in 2017. There will be fewer new Republicans endorsing the Democrat in 2017, and Obenshain might even get a bunch of cross party endorsements like he did this year. Downstate Coal Dems.

          • midwestconservative

            Your “predictive capabilities” apparently make you assume that 2017 will be a carbon copy of 2013.
            Several things likely to happen in 2017 that will make it very different then what happened this year.
            1) No Shutdown
            2) No GOP backed Tax Hike to defend
            3) No GOP backed ultrasound Bill to defend
            4) VA Gov race won’t be the only competitive one in 2017 ( New Jersey)
            5) No party infighting ( of this year’s magnitude) and the resulting “hurt” feelings.
            6) No Giftgate ( at least on our side)
            7) No sodomy law to defend ( heck gay marriage might already be finalized by then and nobody need deal with it) at least on our side, Herring might have to answer why he didn’t “Defend the Commonwealth’s Constitution” and as long as you guys phrase it like that he’ll get hurt by it.
            8) No third party candidate playing stalking horse ( every time a third party candidate does better then expectations BOTH major parties crack down on third party access)
            9) The economy will be different, either it will be better ( to the benefit of the Dems) or more likely worse ( to their disadvantage) but one thing is for sure 2017 will have an entirely different set of candidates, campaign’s, funds, and outside circumstances, and predicting that Obenshain who ran fairly well this year will “preemptively lose” 2017, suggests you’re still in the fetal position from this year.

          • JReynolds79

            Here again, you read into my statement whatever you wanted. MO’s environmental liabilities shied in comparison to his personal/policy vulnerabilities-which don’t “go away” with the passing of a few cycles.

            MO has bad votes (already mentioned a few), bad sound bytes (as a byproduct of having to defend the bad votes), and a lack of charisma. These things won’t change. They will only get worse should the media have grounds to follow him.

    • mpolito

      So you are saying Republicans should change their positions on ‘social issues’? Or just not talk about them as much? As I recall, McDonnell held the same positions on ‘social issues’ as Cuccinelli, Obenshain, etc.

      • JReynolds79

        Long-term I don’t know that we have a choice but to change them. Short-term, avoid them. The majority of Americans agree with the Republican fiscal platform, but we lose them on social issues. We should worry about the things we can fix, and let local communities take care of the “erosion of our moral fiber”. Just my two cents.

        • midwestconservative

          More people poll as pro-life then ever before. So ditching that part of the coalition ( arguably about half) will gain you nothing.
          You aren’t going to gain enough from the “pay for my birth control” demographic to make up for all the people who’d leave the party over that.

          • JReynolds79

            It isn’t a zero-sum game. And the spectrum doesn’t immediately go from “life begins at conception” to “pay for my birth control”

          • midwestconservative

            Your comment suggested jettisoning the entire pro-life caucus, not just those who believe “Life begins at conception”
            Your comment implies that any and all pro-life legislation should be abandoned. That Abortion Clinics should be allowed to treat their patients however badly they see fit. That abortion should occur at any point even up to birth, and that all of this should be funded by the taxpayer.

          • JReynolds79

            Hyperbolic much? But thanks for making my point for me: Ideologues will read into messaging whatever they like, regardless of reality.

          • Not Harry F. Byrd

            We have to get smarter about talking about the pro-life position. Gay issues are a loser though. The sooner we jettison it the better. In the short-term it’s not going to kill us but long term it’s going to start looking like being against civil rights. Already a majority of Republicans under 30 support gay marriage.

    • Not Harry F. Byrd

      I think it’s an open question whether Obie is the front runner in 2017, but I don’t think you can argue he’s an electoral liability based on this outcome. He consistently outpolled the other two candidates. It’s hard when you get wiped out up ballot to win. Remember how close McDonnell won by in 2005. Obie was dragged down by the ticket. He ran a good campaign and came very close. He’s not seen as the divisive guy Cooch and Jackson are.

      • JReynolds79

        He definitely “outperformed” every matrix I can think of-but I would contend that was a byproduct of having far less attention on his race. Given MO’s voting record (and the fact that he campaigned on being a continuation of Ken), I think it’s safe to assume that voters would most likely respond to any negative messaging on him the same way they did to Ken this past cycle.

        If you look at it objectively, there are a ton of policy landmines should MO jump in the limelight. His “miscarriage bill” is an absolute nightmare regardless of how you spin it. On one hand you can say he “didn’t know”, but as an attorney he damn well should. Or you could assert that he did know and didn’t care, but I don’t think anyone would recommend that.

        You also have his open embracement of the Tea Party-which despite how you feel about the movement, it is losing credibility in the eye’s of the average voter. His unequivocal opposition to the Transportation Plan-which will destroy him in the two most important regions in the state (NoVa and Hampton Roads). And the list goes on and on. Not to mention his lack of charisma, which has unfortunately become as important to winning elections as functional policy prowess.

        Don’t get me wrong, he’s a really nice person. He’s also a great representation of his constituency. But he’s far from a statewide contender. And he’s even further from a legitimate voice to lead the party moving forward. Wish it wasn’t the case, but that’s politics.

        • midwestconservative

          T-Mac will be Governor in 2017. Any Dem running will have to defend his record as Gov. He won’t be an asset.

          • JReynolds79

            Which shies in comparison to our nominee having to potentially fight a political war on two fronts

    • midwestconservative

      If only we could run a candidate who had a pro-business economic growth focus, who wouldn’t focus on divisive social issues, who had a record as a social moderate? Oh wait, we did that in 2012, and that same person was caricatured into some sort of RWNJ who wanted to deport every Latino, Lynch Black people, and Ban Birth Control.
      Face it, you could run Tom Davis in 2017 and Democrats will try to turn him into the next Cuccinelli, and guys like you would probably let them and start complaining about those nasty conservatives that always lose elections. ( Tom Davis is actually more conservative then Romney as far as record is concerned)
      Rather then constantly worrying about how the Left will attack our candidate, how bout we attack theirs?
      That’s what winning parties do.

      • JReynolds79

        Funny you should bring Romney into the equation. Run the numbers, Cuccinelli was on par with Romney in just about every region-which is absolutely pathetic considering the turnout in 2012 was about 30% higher (or if we want to spin this, 75% more people voted). So if you want to discuss sustainability vis a vis demographic patterns, lets have at it.

        • Not Harry F. Byrd

          This. Romney also out performed Allen*, who was more of a base candidate (unless you think Jamie Radtke is the new purity standard).

          *Curiously, Allen outperformed Romney in heavily minority precincts.

  • D.j. Spiker

    Now that 2013 has effectively come to a close, it’s time to start seeing some repercussions at RPV. 2013 was a disaster for a Republican Party that had every reason to win, and only one reason to lose (shutdown).

    • Eric McGrane

      “the shutdown”

      At some point, someone needs to be an adult and talk about our fiscal situation. Its not all about politics, people. Far better allow spending to oblivion without challenge, I guess. This is considered the new political “smartness”. Yay.

      • http://www.brianschoeneman.org/ Brian W. Schoeneman

        We’ve been talking like adults about the fiscal situation for years. The shutdown was not the result of an adult conversation. It was the equivalent of my 3 year old demanding that he get to do what he wants and then peeing his pants if he’s told no. What Ted Cruz did was politics, by the way.

        • midwestconservative

          So is Ryan-Murray. Politics that is. Neither the shutdown or the Ryan-Murray Budget are in any way shape or form good policy.

          • Doug Brown

            Normally I agree with much of your analysis, but on this I have to say I agree with Ryan’s deal making. This is not to say I didn’t appreciate Sessions making an issue out of cutting support for wounded and retired vets while not addressing the fraud by illegal aliens in the Earned Income credit, I did, they should use it as a wedge issue, but the Republicans also have to stop playing around with the defunding movement, it’s too stupid to fly. It’s all about people and personnel and Republicans and Conservatives are not putting the right people in the right places.

          • midwestconservative

            No body on the “defund” side is pushing for another shutdown. So Ryan-Murray is a preemptive strike to prevent nothing.
            We should just pass a clean CR in January.

          • Not Harry F. Byrd

            I can’t speak for midwestern but I’m guessing this is along the lines of “you don’t have to support a policy to think it makes sense right now”. Ryan-Murray isn’t great at all. But I would have supported it.

        • Eric McGrane

          Let’s recap:

          * $17 Trillion in debt
          * > $100 Trillion in unfunded liabilities.

          Tea party: “Let’s not keep doing this”

          GOP Plan: “Let’s attack the tea party”


          • DavidH

            Tea party: “Let’s end this, despite the fact that we’ve done nothing to build majority support for our ideas and have failed to capture the elected offices necessary to accomplish our aims.”

            Politics is persuasion. The Tea Party has failed thus far to persuade enough people. And in fact a lot of the time it seems like the Tea Party isn’t interested in persuasion at all, just preaching to the choir and haranguing the rest.

          • Eric McGrane

            I know, right? Politicians are legally outlawed from doing what’s right until the poll numbers tell them how to act.

            By establishing this majority support, this is how Obamacare was passed.

            OH CRAP no it was very unpopular, which destroys your premise.

            You know what’s different? Democrats do what they want, while Republicans do what the democrats want. Completely different.

            If only those darn tea partiers would allow government to continue to expand, things would be so much better. Damn tea partiers. This is all their fault.

          • Samuel E Morrison

            …politicians are legally outlawed from passing legislation until they have a majority of legislators supporting their position. So yes, that was how Obamacare was passed and the only way to get it repealed.

          • Eric McGrane

            Hi Sam! (waves)

            You’re aware that the House isn’t *required* to fund what the Senate demands, right?

            This is where you nod your head and say “YES”.

            Unless of course, your position is that the House has abdicated its responsibility and authority to the Senate and POTUS? (this wasn’t really a question…this has already de facto happened)

          • Samuel E Morrison

            Both houses must pass and the President must sign any legislation before it becomes law. Perhaps you forgot that when the government shutdown on Oct 1, Obamacare went forward regardless? So despite the House refusing to pass legislation funding most of the government, Obamacare went on as scheduled, at least it tried to until the website crashed. Functionally speaking, given the current number of Republican elected officials at the Federal level and the way the budget is currently structured, there is nothing that can be done without either convincing Democrats to vote with Republicans or winning more elections. It’s simple math. Not what I would like, but that’s life.

          • Eric McGrane

            Ok, so the House MUST fund everything the Senate demands. I didnt realize that this is how government works. Thank you.

          • DavidH

            Thank you for proving my point with your comments. Substituting your spin for what people actually say and then ranting about it persuades no one.

            And because you’ve missed the point entirely, I’ll try to be a bit clearer: persuasion and building support is not primarily about polls; it’s about democracy and winning elections.

          • Eric McGrane

            How is this my spin or ranting? its my position that the House doesnt need fund everything. Meanwhile, nearly everyone here seems to tell me how wrong am I am.

            Its not debatable that the GOP is de facto funding everthing, and not exerting its constitutional power of the purse. Period. End of story.

            The House COULD stop most of the insanity. The reason it makes a CHOICE to not do so is because of the political consequences. Period. End of story.

            This is why we need new blood…folks who are willing to do the right thing, even if they do one term and out.

            You can call me extreme, or naive, or claim that I’m spinning, and I’ll reserve the right to call those unwilling to fight spineless. Seriously guys, just close the damn house of representatives. It serves little purpose now.

          • Eric McGrane

            Here’s the newly-established GOP position on winning the fiscal debate:

            “We must capture ALL THREE branches of government.”

            Yes folks…the new strategy is to claim impotence unless your party holds all three branches. Its clear that the GOP will use this as the excuse for not doing anything. We’re already hearing this argument now…its not me making it up.

            And guess what? There’s already historical evidence for this from the LAST time that the GOP held all three.

            Anyone who believes “the GOP will really do something once it holds all three branches again” is lying to themselves, or simply ignorant.

            But sorry, I don’t want to deflect away from the REAL problem, which is the tea party being uppity enough to even TALK about these things. Outrageous!

          • DavidH

            Your commenting style makes clear that you’re not seriously engaged here.

            But I’m curious, what exactly is the point of this comment? What is it exactly that you want “the GOP” (to the extent that either the House or Senate contingent of that party can be referred in a unified way) to do?

            If what you’re after is more government shutdowns, you’re the one who’s ignorant. As we saw in October, non-appropriation doesn’t have any legal impact on most of the budget, including the parts (like Obamacare) that typically provoke the most Tea Party fulminating.

            The way policy gets made is by winning elections and passing laws (or executive action by those who win the presidency). You don’t need to hold all three branches of government to do that. You don’t even need to hold the House, Senate, and White House (which do not add up to three branches). You do need to have a lot more electoral success, or at least a lot more willingness to engage and compromise, than the Tea Party has shown to date.

          • http://www.brianschoeneman.org/ Brian W. Schoeneman

            That’s not it. It’s:

            Tea Party: “Let’s not keep doing this and not let anything else happen until we stop doing this.”

            GOP Plan: “Let’s stop doing this, but make sure we don’t tank the economy while we stop doing this.”

          • Eric McGrane

            Actually, there were several revisions of CR offered, including some that funded government at 100%. Perhaps you didnt read this in the news……I know what a burden it is to be informed on the issues.

            And BOY, we sure did miss a bullet on that whole economy tanking thing, right? I mean, did you SEE what a disastrous impact that massive shutdown had before it was ended? Whew! We really dodged one there! Better to keep to keep spending your grandchildrens money than to risk doing THAT again. I even heard reports of wide-spread cannibalism in Henrico county (shudders).

          • Tim Donner

            Perfectly stated.

        • Turbocohen

          I have to agree with Brian on this. Cruz acted stupidly and gave the dems and liberal republicans a gift. I am TP and I am not a Cruz supporter.

          • Eric McGrane

            At what point do we say “no more”? Is there EVER a point when an adult has to say “stop”? If you agree that there is such a point, please define it. And then if you’re feeling really brave, indicate if you think we’re already there or not. :)

    • Not Harry F. Byrd

      Ditto, DJ. Heads need to roll. I’m skeptical, though.

  • Downstater

    This is just incredibly sad. Not just for Mark O. and the VA GOP, but for Virginia. I am very much afraid that this beautiful state is going to become perverted and leftist. There is a reason why I didn’t move to Maryland at one time in my life. I hope we don’t lose our soul to whatever kind of “marriage” Hollywood is promoting on network t.v. this week, illegal immigrants calling the shots in the state legislature, and Medicaid expansion at the cost of our long-term access to health care providers, because it was dictated by the Federal administration.

    • Eric McGrane

      Cuccinelli would have asserted 10th amendment states’ rights, but people like Dan Cortez felt it was more important to “send a message”.

      Message received. Yay Virginia.

  • Not Harry F. Byrd

    Mark ran a good race, from the pseudo-primary days against Delegate Bell through to the general. He’s a good guy and he came very close.

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  • Craig Scott

    Mark, the family and the campaign are class acts. Well done sir! With Mark’s brilliant legal mind I am looking forward to assisting him in his future efforts… Be well, happy holidays and Gov. Obenshain 2017!

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