The recount in Virginia’s remarkably close race for state attorney general wasn’t quite complete, but the writing was on the wall. Rather than push the contest into the hands of state lawmakers or into the courts, the Republican this afternoon decided to bow out.
State Sen. Mark D. Obenshain (R) conceded the race for Virginia attorney general to Democrat Mark R. Herring on Wednesday, saying his “vigorous and hard-fought fight” is over.
Obenshain’s announcement put an end to a drawn-out contest that, on election night, was the closest statewide election in history.
“It’s apparent that our campaign is going to come up a few votes short,” Obenshain told reporters at an afternoon news conference on Richmond’s Capitol Square.
While it’s no doubt disappointing for Virginia Republicans add this loss to its list of recent setbacks, it’s the larger context that’s especially difficult for the GOP.
Going into this off-year cycle, Republicans in the Commonwealth had every reason to feel optimistic, but as the dust clears, Democrats have won all three statewide races in Virginia for the first time since 1989. What’s more, this is the first time in four decades that Virginia will have a Democratic governor, Democratic lieutenant governor, Democratic attorney general, and two Democratic U.S. senators.
For that matter, as we talked about in November, President Obama carried the commonwealth twice – the only Southern state that Obama won twice that Clinton lost twice.
So, for all the talk about Obama’s “year from hell,” his party just swept all of the statewide contests in this key swing state. Republicans, strategists, and pundits assuming GOP successes in 2014 should probably take note.