Election Law

Va. AG race finally over after Republican candidate concedes, cutting short a recount

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Corrected: Six weeks after Election Day, Virginia finally has an Attorney General.

On Wednesday, Republican candidate Mark Obenshain formally conceded to Democratic opponent Mark Herring, cutting short a statewide recount that had begun on Monday. According to the Washington Post, Obenshain, who trailed Herring by 165 votes after Election Day, decided to end his quest to succeed outgoing Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli after Herring added nearly 700 votes to his lead during the first two days of the recount. Herring, who was represented by Marc Elias of Perkins Coie, will take office on January 11, 2014. Obenshain, in the meantime, was represented by William Hurd of Troutman Sanders.

“It’s been a long and vigorous campaign but it’s over,” Obenshain said at a news conference. On his Twitter feed, Obenshain said that he had called Herring to congratulate him and pledged to assist in Herring’s transition. Herring, meanwhile, said on his Twitter feed that he wanted to “thank the hundreds of election officials and hundreds of volunteers, both [Republicans] and [Democrats], who have presided over a massive recount.” Herring also thanked Obenshain and vowed to “wake up every day to fight for justice, equality, and opportunity for all Virginians.”

Herring’s victory secured a Democratic sweep of the three highest statewide offices for the first time since 1969 (Terry McAuliffe won the gubernatorial race and Ralph Northam was elected lieutenant governor).

For Herring’s lead attorney Elias, who chairs Perkins Coie’s political law practice, the victory was the latest for the recount veteran. Previously, Elias helped now-Senator Al Franken of Minnesota reverse an Election Day deficit in 2008 and now-Governor Mark Dayton of Minnesota survive a challenge to his winning margin in 2010. According to his firm bio, Elias has also helped Senators Maria Cantwell and Harry Reid win recount efforts and served as general counsel to the Kerry-Edwards presidential campaign in 2004. Most recently, however, Elias came up short in 2011 as his client, JoAnne Kloppenburg of Wisconsin, lost a recount in her bid to unseat Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser. On his Twitter feed, Elias deflected credit for the win, saying that it was a “team effort.”

Updated on Dec. 19 to correct the date at which the last Democratic sweep of the three highest statewide offices occurred.

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