Attorney General race still too close to call

The Associated Press

RICHMOND — Election Day came and went with no clear winner in Virginia’s attorney general race.

With nearly all precincts reporting unofficial returns, the contest between two state senators — Republican Mark Obenshain of Harrisonburg and Democrat Mark Herring of Loudoun County — was too close to call. A recount appeared likely.

Neither candidate claimed victory or conceded.

“Since the polls closed we have continued to gain votes to the point where, according to counts, only a few votes separate myself and my opponent,” Herring said early Wednesday. “We want to make sure all precincts are accounted for and results are accurate, all absentee ballots are counted and every Virginian who cast a provisional ballot has their voice heard.”

He told reporters earlier at the Democrats’ election night party that the contest would go to a state-funded recount because the margin was so narrow. The state pays for a recount if the margin is within one-half of a percentage point. If it’s more than that but less than 1 percentage point, a candidate can demand a recount at his or her own expense.

“The race is far from over and we’re going to make sure that we follow the process and make sure every single vote is counted,” he said.

Obenshain was the GOP’s only hope of avoiding a Democratic sweep of the top three statewide offices after Terry McAuliffe won the governor’s race and state Sen. Ralph Northam was elected lieutenant governor.

Herring and Obenshain are seeking to succeed Republican Ken Cuccinelli, who chose to run for governor rather than seek re-election.

The attorney general is essentially the CEO of the state government law office, supervising more than 400 lawyers and support staff. The position also is historically a stepping stone to a run for governor.

In the campaign, the 52-year-old Herring sought to portray Obenshain as a Cuccinelli clone, saying the Republican would pursue an extreme social agenda if elected. Herring, unlike those two Republicans, supports abortion rights and gay marriage. He also has been an advocate of tighter gun restrictions.

Obenshain, 51, steered away from hot-button social issues, pledging to protect Virginians from child predators, elder abusers and sex traffickers.