The 2012 election season is over, with Virginia once again showing its “blue” tendencies for President and U.S. Senate, if not for the insanely gerrymandered U.S. House of Representatives (that’s a topic for another time). Now, we head into one of those (in)famous odd-numbered-year elections, in which turnout tends to fall off sharply, but more so for “Obama coalition” voters (young, federally oriented, Latinos, etc.) than for the teahadists (old, angry, white…but they always vote!).
Clearly, the key to Democrats’ winning in 2013 is getting out those “Obama voters,” or more broadly “presidential/federal voters.” If we do that, we win. If we don’t, we lose. It’s not complicated in theory; now we just have to get the job done.
So, how do we get those voters out? For starters, we have to explain very clearly to potential voters why an election for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, and the House of Delegates of Virginia matters to them. Part of it, no doubt, will be letting people know how extreme the Republican ticket, headed by Ken Cuccinelli, (but also including an Attorney General candidate who believes that Cuccinelli is a role model) will be. The other part, at least as important, is putting up high-quality candidates who not only can win elections, but also would perform well in the jobs they seek.
One such high-quality candidate is State Senator Mark Herring (D-Loudoun/Fairfax), now running for Attorney General. I’ve had the chance to speak off-the-record with Senator Herring, and also to interview him on the record. I’ve also reviewed his record as a State Senator (in this session alone, Sen. Herring has been a leader in opposing uranium mining in Virginia, fighting back against the Republicans’ war on women’s rights), have talked to his campaign team, and on all counts I’ve been highly impressed.
Bottom line: Mark Herring is a candidate who is running for all the right reasons, with superb qualifications for the job, with a sharp mind and with a clear vision for what the Virginia Attorney General’s Office should, and should NOT, be doing. As if all that’s not enough, Senator Herring also has proven his ability to win elections in a “purple” part of Virginia, one which happens to be arguably the most important “swing” area of the state. Add all that up, and what we’ve got here is what is known in technical terms as a “no brainer.” In all seriousness, though, there is no doubt in my mind that Mark Herring should be Virginia’s next Attorney General, and that WHEN he’s elected, he will do a superb job.
A few points from my interview with our next Attorney General, Mark Herring are on the “flip.”
First, in stark contrast to Ken Cuccinelli’s view of the office, Mark Herring believes that the Virginia Attorney General’s office needs to always provide professional legal advice based on the merits of the law, not in service of a political ideology (or personal ambition), let alone an extreme ideology (and extreme personal ambition) like Ken Cuccinelli has demonstrated.
Second, and again in stark contrast to the nasty, divisive tone and substance of Ken Cuccinelli, the Attorney General’s office under Mark Herring will be dedicated to serving ALL Virginians (e.g., the public interest, not the interests of narrow-but-well-connected special interests), to standing up for mainstream values, to protecting people from persecution, and to making Virginia a welcoming place for individuals, businesses, and families to call home. Right now, with Ken Cuccinelli busy waging war against women’s rights, LGBT people, immigrants, scientists, academic freedom, and the rule of law, that’s increasingly – and disturbingly – not the case.
Third, as Attorney General, Mark Herring will stop squandering the resources of the office, instead focusing it on what actually matters: things like protecting seniors from financial fraud and abuse; ensuring that veterans get the benefits they need and have earned; “mak[ing] sure we have a fair marketplace for both businesses and consumers;” making sure that people have clean air to breathe and clean water to drink; defending people’s right to vote; fighting against domestic violence; and other areas important to ALL Virginians.
Finally, Mark Herring is superbly qualified for this job, certainly in terms of his educational credentials (law degree with honors from the University of Richmond; bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Virginia) and legal experience (he has a successful law practice in Loudoun), but also in terms of his experience at the local and state levels on a wide variety of issues. As a member of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, Mark Herring was a “a strong advocate for economic development and road improvements that create jobs and transportation solutions for citizens.” In the State Senate, Herring has “strongly opposed efforts to take away a woman’s right to choose, roll back voting rights, and institutionalize discrimination in our laws.” Sen. Herring has also “championed legislation to target those who would commit financial scams against our seniors and as a member of the Governor McDonnell’s Domestic Violence and Response Advisory Board…sponsored and passed legislation to strengthen penalties for acts of domestic violence.”
In the end, Mark Herring will be, and should be, the Democrats’ nominee for Attorney General in 2013, as well as Virginia’s next Attorney General. Given the importance of this office, and the amount of good – or bad – that it can do in all of our lives, this is one we’ve got to get right next year. Let’s all work hard to elect Mark Herring in November (click here to sign up for Sen. Herring’s Twitter and Facebook feeds). In doing so, let’s restore honor and integrity to the Virginia Attorney General’s office, after four long years in which Ken Cuccineill has brought nothing but ridicule and shame upon our great state.
P.S. I almost forgot to mention Sen. Herring’s statement on the Newtown tragedy, in which he called for action regarding firearms and mental health to help prevent this from happening again. In this context, I’d point out that Sen. Herring opposed repeal of one-handgun-per-month. Sen. Herring also sponsored a bill last year providing making “the application of physical force against a family or household member” a Class 1 misdemeanor. A person convicted of this would lose their right to carry a firearm. The legislation was supported by the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance, but disgracefully was killed by the Republican/NRA-controlled House Militia Committee.
Update: Note that I began paid consulting to the Herring campaign on social media earlier this month. I had actually written most of this endorsement back in December, but decided to post it now, when more people are paying attention.