With razor thin margin, Virginia's AG race likely headed for recount
November 6th, 2013
04:14 PM ET
10 months ago

With razor thin margin, Virginia's AG race likely headed for recount

Washington (CNN) - While Democrats won Virginia's two top elected offices on Tuesday night, by Wednesday afternoon, the state's race for attorney general appeared to be headed for a recount.

With 100% of precincts reporting as of Wednesday afternoon, Republican state Sen. Mark D. Obenshain has a razor thin 286-vote lead over Democrat state Sen. Mark Herring.

With such a thin margin, a recount in the race is a near certainty. While there are no automatic recounts in Virginia, any candidate that loses by less than 1% is allowed to petition the State Board of Elections for a recount.

The current unofficial total, according to the board, has Obenshain leading Herring by .05%.

"The race is far from over," Herring told reporters on Tuesday night.

"The commonwealth has a process to make sure all the votes are counted and we are going to make sure we go through that process," he said. "Right now it is basically 50-50 and the numbers have been moving in our direction all night."

But the recount process will not be a quick one, according to elections board spokesman Nikki Sheridan.

The earliest the process could begin would be November 25, after local electoral boards certify their results and the state board finishes counting ballots from people who either voted at the wrong precinct or did not present satisfactory identification.

Some of those ballots – known as provisional – may not even be counted unless the person who voted but failed to show correct identification does so by noon on Friday, November 9.

The rules on what can and can't be considered during a recount are also strict. While the losing candidate can't challenge absentee and provisional ballots ruled invalid or the eligibility of any voter, they can challenge whether votes were tallied correctly for standard ballots.

Much like Tuesday's other statewide races in Virginia, the contests focused on a combination of national issues and character attacks. Obenshain attempted to paint Herring as a Democratic politician bent on taking away gun rights and taxing "your freedom away." The National Rifle Association backed Obenshain and ran ads in the race.

Herring, on the other hand, attempted to tie Obenshain to the now-defeated Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli. Herring ads continually linked the two together, playing off of fears that Cuccinelli, the state attorney general, was too far right on social issues for the purple state of Virginia.

"Like Cuccinelli, Obenshain believes politicians should dictate our most personal decisions," one ad with a female narrator said. "They co-sponsored a bill together to ban the birth control pill, and outlaw abortion, even in cases of rape and incest. Cuccinelli and Obenshain: Together - a dangerously wrong turn for Virginia."

In the last 25 years, two high profile Virginia races have gone to a recount because of their tight margins.

Democrat Douglas Wilder, in 1989, lead Republican Marshall Coleman, by 6,854 votes in the race for the commonwealth's governors mansion. Coleman called for a recount and while the process reduced Wilder's lead by 113 votes, it came nowhere close to changing the election result.

More recently, in 2005, Republican Bob McDonnell held a slimmer 323 votes margin over Democrat Creigh Deeds in the Old Dominion's attorney general race. While Deeds called a recount, the process actually increased Mc Donnell's lead by 37 votes and he was declared the winner.

Sheridan with the state's election board pointed out in an email that both those recounts occurred on December 21.


Filed under: Virginia
soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. Data Driven

    This is where the 57,000 disfranchised voters have affected the election. That doesn't happen, and Herring wins by a clear point.

    Don't expect much difference, though, after the recount. VA uses voting machines. Unlike humans, computers count the same way twice.

    November 6, 2013 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  2. Sniffit

    For the life of me I'll never understand the mental block Dem/liberals have with down-ballot voting. Completely ridiculous. This Teatroll running for VA AG is an even bigger ideologue religio-fascist nutjob than Cuccinelli was and it appears people just waltz in, mark off the governor box, and leave without thought to the consequences of putting some jackhole RWNJ in the AG spot cause trouble all throughout McAuliffe's term as governor. Ridiculous.

    "Some of those ballots – known as provisional – may not even be counted unless the person who voted but failed to show correct identification does so by noon on Friday, November 9."

    Oh, and oops, notice didn't get sent until November 8th because guess who just lost the election for governor but is in charge of all these electoral processes in VA. Guess.

    November 6, 2013 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  3. Sniffit

    "While the losing candidate can't challenge absentee and provisional ballots ruled invalid "

    Oh lovely...and guess who just lost the race for governor but is still in charge of the offices and people making those determinations. Guess.

    November 6, 2013 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  4. The Real Tom Paine

    Watch the suppression machine kick into high gear for the GOP gauleiter.

    November 6, 2013 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  5. AJ

    In 2005, the Democrat was Creigh Deeds, not Craig Deeds.

    November 6, 2013 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  6. Data Driven

    I need to amend my statement to "electronic votes" not being counted differently.

    Provisional ballots, though? Whoo-hoo, free for all! (If they're counted, that is.)

    November 6, 2013 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  7. Lynda/Minnesota

    Why is CNN replaying campaign ad talking points? Recount or not, the election was closed to votes yesterday evening.

    November 6, 2013 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  8. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    The possibility of a TRIFECTA for Virginia Dems? Ooooh!

    November 6, 2013 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    Yeah but I'm sure a box full of 350 ballots with the names of dead people voting for the Democrat will turn the tide. It is the Democrat way.

    November 6, 2013 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  10. Sniffit

    ""Terry McAuliffe has no mandate. Virginia voters reelected the Republican majority to the House of Delegates, and they will provide a much-needed check on McAuliffe's plans," Priebus said."

    Teatroll Rosetta Stone says: "Elections only have consequences when we win them. The other ones don't count."

    November 6, 2013 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  11. tom l

    You should be sending Sarvis (the fake libertarian funded by a Clinton bundler) who ran. Without him, all I would be hearing about is voter disenfranchised. Actually, maybe I should be thankful because the echo chamber would be at maximum levels. Just listen to the ECHO chamber now. My goodness, you haven't even lost yet and you're whining already. And the funniest part is that when I bring up the fact that in the gov race he was outspent 4 to 1, had a fake libertarian running and is a carpetbagger I'm called a sore loser. You guys are so cute.

    ECHO ECHO ECHO!!! If you don't think like me then I'm gonna act like this is 5th grade and mock you and bully you around. ECHO ECHO ECHO! I bet Obenshain hates women and minorities.

    November 6, 2013 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  12. tom l

    ECHO ECHO ECHO! That plan is swiss cheese! That plan is crappy! ECHO ECHO ECHO. He misspoke! ECHO ECHO ECHO. Repubs want all women and minorities to die! Dems are for the average American! The media is all conservatives! CNN is no Faux Lite! ECHO ECHO ECHO! It's only 3% of Americans so he didn't lie! ECHO ECHO ECHO

    November 6, 2013 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  13. Sniffit

    "I bet Obenshain hates women and minorities."

    He introduced a bill in 2009 that would have required women to report a miscarriage TO THE POLICE within 24 hours of it occurring or face potential jail time.

    Yes, he hates women...at least the ones whose wombs he doesn't have complete and utter control over.

    November 6, 2013 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  14. Obama-Democrats: Doubling Down, Lying about Their Lies

    Yeah, Republicans need to start using the same dirty Democrat tricks. We need to fund more Green Party, Socialist Party, Communist Party candidates to take away most of their support. Without all of the socialists and communists voting for the Democrats they are an irrelelvant party.

    November 6, 2013 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  15. Data Driven

    @tom l,

    "You should be sending Sarvis (the fake libertarian funded by a Clinton bundler) who ran."

    Yeah, except that it backfired on the Clinton's, as Sarvis took away more votes from MCAULIFFE.

    " I bet Obenshain hates women and minorities."

    I bet he does too! Mwah! See you tomorrow, Tom. :)

    November 6, 2013 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  16. Larry in Houston

    can't compare the election in Va. to the election in N.J. the garden state just loved Christy, even though he was "snubbed" at C -PAC – – and I also didn't see any republican governors or most other republicans "embracing" Christy, offering him a lot of congrats....Christy will eventually find out that they wouldn't give him the sweat off of their brow......Christy should go ahead & admit it, Just like Charlie Crist & others have already done.....or I guess he could turn Independent.....but we'll see, come November, 2014......when one party will take over the whole congress....I honestly don't know which party will win by that time, but it's going to be a dandy.....

    IF the ACA continues to be a failure – and when the voters finally find out they are paying more for their health coverage, and are getting dropped like a hot potato, there will be a republican sweep, hands down.

    November 6, 2013 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |