Republicans Meyer, Whitbeck enter race to replace Herring in Virginia Senate

November 26, 2013

Just a day after the State Board of Elections declared Sen. Mark R. Herring (D) Virginia’s next attorney general, two Republican candidates have announced plans to run for his Loudoun County seat.

Herndon resident Ron Meyer, 24, a public relations professional who frequently contributes conservative political analysis for Fox News, announced his candidacy in a statement Tuesday. John Whitbeck, chairman of the Republican Party’s 10th Congressional District Committee, had announced the day before.

Both candidates emphasized their continued support of Sen. Mark D. Obenshain, Herring’s Republican opponent, whose campaign has announced plans to formally request a recount in a race he lost by just 165 votes out of 2 million cast, according to the tally certified this week. Both said they hope to see Obenshain emerge as the winner.

Meyer, who had previously announced plans to challenge Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.) next year, said that regarding the Herring seat, it was important for Republicans to “be prepared for the worst and hope for the best.” If Herring is affirmed as the winner, Meyer said, he planned to run as a “common-sense conservative” who could reclaim a seat long held by Democrats.

Whitbeck said he had spoken to Obenshain about his decision to enter the race and said it was necessary to prepare for the possibility of a campaign to replace Herring.

Whitbeck, a partner in the Leesburg law firm of Whitbeck Cisneros McElroy and an adjunct professor at George Mason law school, sparked controversy in September when he told an anti-Semitic joke at a rally for gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli II (R). He apologized for the comment.

The GOP committee for Senate District 33 is to meet next week to decide a method of nomination and to set a timeline for choosing the party’s nominee to fill Herring’s seat, officials said.

The Republican nominee will face Leesburg lawyer Jennifer Wexton, who defeatedSheila A. Olem in the Democratic firehouse primary election Saturday.

Del. Joe T. May (R-Loudoun) is considering entering the race as an independent candidate, according to someone familiar with his thinking. May, who has represented District 33 for more than two decades, was defeated in the June Republican primary by conservative newcomer Dave LaRock.

Caitlin Gibson is a local news and features writer for The Washington Post.
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