THE 30-SECOND television spot on behalf of Virginia state Sen. Mark D. Obenshain, the Republican candidate for attorney general, starts and ends with his daughter, Tucker, telling Virginians that “Dad will . . . grow our economy with new jobs” and “voted for policies that have created thousands of jobs.”
In fact, this year Mr. Obenshain voted against the state’s most critical jobs-creating legislation in decades — the landmark transportation bill that will pump billions of dollars into upgrading Virginia’s rapidly failing transportation network, which stood at the brink of bankruptcy. Every significant business organization in the state backed the bill, which was signed by the Republican governor.
Mr. Obenshain’s vote mirrored the position of the man he hopes to succeed and emulate: Ken Cuccinelli II, the current attorney general and GOP candidate for governor. With Mr. Cuccinelli trailing badly in the polls, along with the embarrassing Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, E.W. Jackson, party leaders have braced for a crushing defeat.
The one victory Republicans hope to salvage is Mr. Obenshain’s race for attorney general, into which national GOP organizations have been pouring dollars. Yet Mr. Obenshain, his anodyne manner and telegenic family notwithstanding, has a voting record in Richmond virtually indistinguishable, and in some ways worse, than Mr. Cuccinelli’s own.
Mr. Obenshain has been a driving force behind a new law tightening voter ID requirements, whose transparent intent is to drive down voter turnout among minorities and the poor, who tend to vote for Democrats. He has been a champion of efforts to roll back abortion rights, including by the “personhood” legislation that would extend legal rights to unborn children and by banning some insurance plans from covering abortions.
Outrageously, Mr. Obenshain sought to force women to report miscarriages to the authorities. His explanation — that he was doing the bidding of a prosecutor who sought to protect newborn babies and that he withdrew the bill when he grasped its flaws — casts doubt on his basic legal competence and qualification for the office he now seeks.
This year, he was chief patron of a bill that allows college clubs to restrict group membership to like-minded participants. That obnoxious bill, narrowly enacted thanks to Republican support, would allow campus religious groups to ban homosexuals.
We endorsed Mr. Obenshain’s Democratic opponent, Mark Herring, a Northern Virginia state senator much more in step with Virginia’s tradition of pragmatic problem-solving. Mr. Herring, a former member of Loudoun County’s Board of Supervisors, is broadly experienced in land use, mental health and public ethics issues. He has been the driving force behind legislation to ban the sale of dangerous designer drugs and to protect the elderly from financial fraud.
And unlike Mr. Obenshain, Mr. Herring supported the transportation funding bill, which will promote prosperity and accommodate the state’s growing, traffic-weary population. That, rather than gauzy testimonials from admiring relatives, is the real test of commitment to creating jobs and backing policies to promote Virginia’s economy.