Mark Obenshain orders a recount while Mark Herring prepares for new job

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    Cross-posted from that paragon of journalism and reporting Richmond Progressive Examiner.

    Much to the surprise of interested onlookers (*sarcasm*), state Senator Mark D. Obenshain formally requested a recount on Tuesday in what has become a “historically tight race for Virginia attorney general.”

    The results of the November 5th election for Virginia Attorney General were certified by the Virginia State Board of Elections on Monday. State Sen. Mark R. Herring (D-Loudoun) was announced the victor by 165 votes, making the 2013 election for attorney general the closest Virginia political contest in “modern Virginia history” (however “modern” is defined).

    Meanwhile, state Sen. Herring announced the five co-chairmen of his inaugural committee, another unforeseen action (*sarcasm again*) that signals Herring’s own expectation of becoming Virginia’s next attorney general. According to a statement made on Tuesday by Sen. Herring, “It is within Senator Obenshain’s right to pursue electoral victory to an ultimate conclusion beyond the original count, canvass and certification.” Herring went on, “His tactics, however, will not impede our efforts to build the finest team to serve all Virginians in the Office of Attorney General or prepare for the 2014 legislative session.”

    Indeed, Obenshain is well within his political rights to request a recount. Sen. Herring would undoubtedly have done the same were he in Obenshain’s position. The more important question at this juncture is what action(s) Sen. Obenshain will take if the recount returns the same result?

    Some have argued that Obenshain will act honorably, but Obenshain is not the only factor in this equation, even if he is the most important factor. Another significant variable in this complex equation of power politics is the Republican Party of Virginia (RPV), an institution that is no doubt reluctant to easily concede a clean sweep by the Democratic Party on Election Day. The RPV could well influence what actions Obenshain takes if the vote count is upheld.

    As to Obenshain’s own honor or that of the Republican Party, I question anyone who believes any politician or institution on the right of the political spectrum is willing to put the country ahead of its own self-interests. I’d like to believe that Obenshain is such a politician, but recent actions by elected Republican representatives of Virginia and the U.S. have left me a bit jaded on this point.