in Virginia, Republicans held out the most hope in statewide races for attorney general candidate Mark Obenshain. With 100 percent of the vote in — at this point (more on that in a second) — Obenshain leads his Democratic opponent Mark Herring 1,099,714 to 1,099,233. That is 481 votes out of more than 2 million votes cast. However, provisional ballots have yet to be counted. Under a new Virginia law, voters who did not have identification at the polls have until Friday to present their ID and thereby allow their vote to be counted. This pool of ballots is, as a Richmond GOP insider put it, a total wildcard. Ironically, the last nail-biter this close was in 2005 when Bob McDonnell won the attorney general race by 360 votes.
The votes, including whatever provisional ballots there are, will be counted and then certified at a meeting set for Nov. 25. The loser will then petition for a recount, which will take place in December. Obenshain did turn out to be the strongest of the three GOP statewide candidates. He got about 90,000 votes more than Ken Cuccinelli ll. This bolsters the claim that any plain-wrap Republican who didn’t come across as a partisan could have won against Terry McAuliffe. Sometimes the candidate and the message really do matter.
Obenshain very dramatically separated himself from Cuccinelli, making ethics (a sore point for Cuccinelli with the state gift scandasl) a key part of his campaign. As for message, Obenshain criticized Washington pols and ran as a law-and-order Republican. That worked better than what any other statewide GOP candidate did. Whether it was enough, we will find out, likely in December. If Obenshain wins, as the only statewide Republican he’ll be in the top tier of GOP gubernatorial candidates for 2017.