Judge with Obenshain family ties recuses self from recount in Va. attorney general race

The Richmond judge who would normally preside over the recount in the tight Virginia attorney general race has recused himself, possibly because of his close ties to the family of state Sen. Mark Obenshain.

Under Virginia law, the special court that will oversee the recount of the contest between Obenshain (R-Harrisonburg) and state Sen. Mark Herring (D-Loudoun) — which Herring won by 165 votes, according to the results certified by the State Board of Elections — should be led by the chief judge of the Richmond Circuit Court.

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But Bradley B. Cavedo, holder of that title, recused himself from the recount case last week, according to Ed Jewett, the court’s chief deputy clerk. Instead, the recount will be overseen by another circuit court judge, Beverly W. Snukals, who was selected for the task by the Virginia Supreme Court. Two other judges, also selected by the Supreme Court, will participate in the recount court.

Cavedo did not say publicly why he was recusing himself, Jewett said. But Cavedo has a long-standing tie to Obenshain’s family: Cavedo served as an aide and driver to Richard “Dick” Obenshain (R) — Mark’s father — during the elder Obenshain’s run for U.S. Senate in 1978. Dick Obenshain died in a plane crash that year shortly after winning the GOP nomination.

“Nearly twenty-five years ago, my life was forever changed when I went to work in the U.S. Senate campaign for one of the great Virginians of the last century – Richard D. Obenshain. I was his assistant and driver, and together we traveled 50,000 miles across Virginia,” Cavedo said when he was sworn in as a circuit court judge in 2002, according to a comment Cavedo posted on the conservative blog Bearing Drift in 2008.

(Cavedo went on to work for the campaign of Obenshain’s replacement as the 1978 Republican nominee for Senate — John Warner — and was assigned to be the driver for Warner’s then-wife, Elizabeth Taylor, according to a 2011 piece in The Virginian-Pilot.)

A preliminary hearing in the Herring-Obenshain recount is expected to happen Wednesday, though an official time has not been set. The recount itself is expected to take place over roughly a two-day period in mid-December.

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