RICHMOND — State Sen. Mark D. Obenshain will serve as chairman of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s presidential campaign in Virginia, the campaign announced Friday.
The notice came the day after Walker appeared onstage in Cleveland with nine other White House hopefuls at the first Republican debate.
The rollout of supporters seven months ahead of Virginia’s March 1 primary is more evidence of the outsize role the swing state will play in the 2016 election.
“I am privileged to introduce State Sen. Mark Obenshain as the leader of our campaign’s efforts in Virginia,” Walker said in a statement.
“Sen. Obenshain is a person who shares the same conservative values and reform mentality in which I so wholeheartedly believe,” Walker said. “With his support and the support of the broad coalition he will help us build, we are confident our message of bold reform and big results will make an impact, paving the way for victory in Virginia and beyond.”
The designation marks the first time Obenshain (R-Harrisonburg) has taken an active role in a presidential contest. He narrowly lost the attorney general’s race to Mark R. Herring (D) in 2013, and he is widely believed to be preparing to run for governor in 2017.
Obenshain, an attorney, has amassed a conservative voting record in the state Senate since first winning election 12 years ago. He has been an advocate for charter schools and for strengthening voter-identification requirements.
“I believe we need someone with proven executive experience to lead this country, and Gov. Walker has shown he can do that, even in a blue state,” Obenshain said in the statement. “I’m excited to help spread his message of conservative reform. It is a message that resonates not only with Republicans, but also with independents and conservative Democrats, and that’s a message and a coalition that will get him elected as our next president.”
In Wisconsin, Walker’s elimination of most collective bargaining rights for public workers made him a GOP star who went on to survive a 2012 recall and win election to a second term.
In a hypothetical faceoff against Hillary Rodham Clinton (D), a July Quinnipiac University poll found Walker would best her in Virginia by 3 points, which is within the survey’s margin of error.
Walker was in Virginia to raise money for the state Republican Party in May.