More than six weeks after Election Day, Virginia State Sen. Mark Obenshain (R) finally conceded the Virginia attorney general race on Wednesday, as the recount he sought failed to close his gap against state Sen. Mark Herring (D).
“As we near the conclusion of the recount I’m confident that the final total of the recount is going to show Mark Herring ahead,” Obenshain said Wednesday at a press conference.
Obenshain added that the attorney general race is “over.” He said he called Herring earlier in the day to concede the race.
Obenshain’s decision to drop out came near the end of the recount he requested. Over the past two days estimates of the recount showed an increasing gap in state Sen. Mark Herring’s favor. By Wednesday it looked like Herring had increased his lead to over 800 votes.
Herring was ahead after the original tally by a slim 165-vote margin. Under Virginia law, that margin was small enough for either candidate to request a recount (which Obenshain did).
Obenshain’s loss in the attorney general race means the three top elected political posts in the state will all be in Democratic hands, the first time that’s happened since 1989.
The silver lining for Republicans is that because Herring and state Sen. Ralph Northam (D), who won the lieutenant governor’s race, are leaving their Senate posts for higher office, control of the Senate could go to Republicans. It is currently evenly split between 20 Democrats and 20 Republicans. The seats will be filled by special elections called by the governor.
Obenshain concluded his concession speech by saying he planned to try and work newly elected Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D).
“I’m going to work in good faith with Governor McAuliffe to expand our common ground,” Obenshain said. “Now this election is over, but our work remains. And I’m going to continue to fight for these conservative principles. These are mainstream principles and I’m going to continue to fight for the people of Virginia.”