Virginia Democrats Raise Concerns Over Ken Cuccinelli's Role In Possible Attorney General Recount

11/14/2013 12:50 pm ET | Updated Jan 23, 2014
  • Markus Schmidt Richmond Times-Dispatch

Democrat Mark Herring and Republican Mark Obenshain, locked in a razor-thin contest for attorney general, on Wednesday both named transition teams.

The State Board of Elections updated the count to reflect provisional ballots from Fairfax County. Herring now leads by 164 votes out of more than 2.2 million cast.

Herring had declared victory late Tuesday night, saying "voters in Virginia have spoken." At a news conference in Richmond on Wednesday, Obenshain termed Herring's declaration "bravado" and said the Democrat should resign from his state Senate seat if he is so confident.

Obenshain said talk of a recount is premature, pending the Nov. 25 vote certification by the State Board of Elections.

Obenshain also said he is not

concerned about conflict of interest questions Democrats are raising because Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is calling on supporters to help fund Obenshain's potential recount. Cuccinelli's office advises and counsels state agencies -- including the elections board, which would be in charge of a recount.

State Sen. A. Donald McEachin, D-Henrico, on Wednesday called on Cuccinelli to "stop tainting the electoral process and to refrain from fundraising for Senator Obenshain."

Cuccinelli has a critical role to play to help ensure Virginians have confidence in the outcome, McEachin said in a statement.

"Attorney General Cuccinelli needs to take his responsibilities seriously in this process and refrain from his overt and extreme partisanship," he said.

Obenshain said the attorney general is bound by ethics.

"I am confident that the attorney general and his office will do a good job at making sure that the rules are fairly and impartially applied and that the legal advice ... is based on the law," he said.

Herring, a state senator from Loudoun County, said in a statement that "transitions are about new beginnings, and this transition will be a return to fundamentals. We will get back to putting ideology and partisanship aside, and putting the law and Virginians first."

The five co-chairs of Herring's transition team are:

--Gabriel Morgan, sheriff of Newport News;

--Anne Holton of Richmond, wife of Sen. Timothy M. Kaine, former Virginia first lady, former Richmond juvenile and domestic relations district court judge;

--Michael Doucette, commonwealth's attorney of Lynchburg;

--Jeffrey Novak of Prince William County, national director of state public policy and assistant general counsel at AOL and a member of the Northern Virginia Technology Council; and

--Shannon Taylor, Henrico County commonwealth's attorney.

Herring said David Hallock, deputy chief of staff and legislative director for Sen. Mark R. Warner, would lead his transition.

Obenshain, a state senator from Harrisonburg, said "the responsible thing to do is to prepare for a potential transition" "given the 'historically narrow margin.'"

He announced that his transition co-chairs are:

--former Chief Deputy Attorney General Chuck James;

--Jerry W. Kilgore, a Republican who served as attorney general from 2002 to 2005;

--Andy Miller, a Democrat who served as attorney general from 1970 to 1977; and

--Lisa Caruso, Dinwiddie County commonwealth's attorney.

If Herring prevails, come January Democrats will hold all five of Virginia's statewide offices -- two U.S. Senate seats, governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general -- for the first time since 1969. Herring would be the first Democrat elected attorney general since 1989, when Mary Sue Terry won a second four-year term.

According to the State Board of Elections, Herring has 1,103,777 votes, or 49.89 percent. Obenshain has 1,103,613 votes, or 49.88 percent. There were 4,926 write- in votes in the election.

Herring leads by 0.01 percentage point. A candidate who loses by less than a half of 1 percent can ask for a recount paid by taxpayers. A candidate who loses by between 0.5 and 1 percent must pay for a recount. Obenshain and Herring continue asking supporters for donations.

In a recount, elections officials check and re-add vote totals taken from voting machine records.

mschmidt@timesdispatch.com(804) 649-6537Twitter: @MSchmidtRTD

Politics Editor Andrew Cain contributed to this report. ___

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