Mark Herring, Unfit for Office?

Photo from Mark Herring's Facebook Page
Photo from Mark Herring’s Facebook Page

Newly elected Attorney General Mark Herring recently announced that he would work to fight Virginia’s same sex marriage ban.  However, when taking the oath of office, didn’t Herring pledge uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of Virginia?  If so, someone ought to remind him that in 2006 Virginia voters approved the Marshall-Newman Amendment to the Virginia Constitution which declared:

Only a union between one man and one woman may be a marriage valid in or recognized by this Commonwealth and its political subdivisions. This Commonwealth and its political subdivisions shall not create or recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance, or effects of marriage. Nor shall this Commonwealth or its political subdivisions create or recognize another union, partnership, or other legal status to which is assigned the rights, benefits, obligations, qualities, or effects of marriage.

Certainly Virginians ought to revisit their laws from time to time and decide if past decisions ought to upheld or corrected.  Perhaps it is time for the citizens and legislators to address this issue once more.  However, it is deeply troubling to hear news that the attorney general is more or less abrogating his duty for political reasons.  Wasn’t it Herring’s own campaign who declared “The Kind of Attorney General Mark Herring Will Be As Attorney General, Mark Herring will put the law first, not politics.”  If he proceeds down this path, it is clear that Virginians have been deceived.

In response, Senator Mark Obenshain, who narrowly lost last year’s attorney general race, offered the following statement:

Obenshain Statement on Attorney General Mark Herring’s
Decision to Brief Against Virginia in Marriage Amendment Case
RICHMOND — Today, Senator Mark Obenshain (R-Harrisonburg) issued the following statement about Attorney General Mark Herring’s announcement that his office will not defend Virginia’s Marriage Amendment, and will be filing a brief asking the court to strike down a provision of the state constitution.

“Virginians, like millions of others across the country, are engaged in a robust debate over marriage, one that speaks to an important unresolved constitutional issue. Here in Virginia, the state’s Marriage Amendment is a matter of perennial legislative debate, and that Amendment could well fall: the voters could repeal it or a court may strike it down. But it is emphatically not the role of the Attorney General to make that determination unilaterally, and that may well be the consequence of Attorney General Herring’s decision.

“Fair minded people disagree on the issue of gay marriage, but this is, fundamentally, about the rule of law and allowing the system to work. Whether the Marriage Amendment will survive court scrutiny is clearly an unresolved question, but our system of law does not work when one side of the argument fails to show up. It is manifestly the job of the Attorney General to defend the law and let it rise or fall on it merits in court.”

Attorney General Herring, who on the campaign trail refused to take a clear position on whether he would defend Virginia law in this and other instances, will be filing a brief in support of the plaintiffs, according to spokeswoman Ellen Qualls.

“The Attorney General is the Commonwealth’s lawyer,” said Obenshain. “It is deeply inappropriate for the Attorney General to use state resources to actively oppose a duly ratified constitutional amendment. Through this decision, Herring is effectively seeking to unilaterally reverse the actions of the General Assembly in adopting the Amendment, and the people of Virginia in ratifying it. There are deeply held convictions on both sides of this issue, which is why it is all the more important that the case has its day on court—and that both sides of the dispute are ably and robustly argued.”

In a September interview with the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Herring said that he would “poll the attorneys in the attorney general’s office who have the expertise in the particular subject matter” to help him determine whether or not to defend the Marriage Amendment or other laws in court. At a debate on October 2nd, he pointedly declined to state whether he would defend state laws with which he disagreed.

Obenshain concluded, “I look forward to working with the Attorney General on many important issues for the good of all Virginians, and have no intention of highlighting every possible point of disagreement that may arise throughout Herring’s term in office, but I consider the question of whether or not the Office of the Attorney General is to defend Virginia law a matter of utmost importance, something that goes to the heart of the duties of the Attorney General. This is especially true given Mark Herring’s dissembling comments made over the past six months on the campaign trail.  Virginians should be disappointed that he didn’t display the courage to share his intentions when repeatedly asked during his campaign. Today’s decision sets a disturbing precedent and has the potential to deprive Virginians on both sides of this important issue of the legal scrutiny the matter clearly merits.”

Friends, this issue is about much more than the definition of marriage in Virginia.  One shouldn’t fall into the trap of supporting this action just because he or she happens to support gay marriage.  Should Attorney General Herring attempt to redefine the law outside of the legislative process, should he fail to uphold his oath of office, it seems clear that he is unfit for the position for which he was elected and thus ought to either resign or be removed.

A Troubling Contest

Photo from the Obenshain Campaign

Here in Virginia, the race for our next attorney general is unresolved.  In the days after the election, the totals fluctuated for the candidates with each enjoying the lead at some point.  When the state board of elections certified the official result on November 25th, Democrat Mark Herring led Republican Mark Obenshain by 165 votes out of over two million cast.  As a result, the Obenshain campaign has asked for a recount, which is permitted in races where the percentage difference is one percent or less and paid for by the state in cases where the margin is less than 1/2 of a percent.

Will the recount change the outcome?  The last statewide recount took place in the 2005 attorney general’s race.  Republican Bob McDonnell led before the recount and emerged victorious afterward.  According to a press release sent out from the Obenshain campaign on Tuesday, “There have been four statewide elections in the U.S. since 2000 that finished within a 300 vote margin.  In three of those four statewide elections the results were reversed in a recount.”  Yes, it is possible the outcome could change; Virginia taxpayers shouldn’t grumble about footing this bill.

As we await news of this recount, if Obenshain should fall short some Republican activists have been promoting the idea of something called a “contest”.  In close elections where there are cases of massive voting irregularities, candidates can appeal to the General Assembly to decide the outcome.  The last time a contest took place was in the late 70’s when a Republican candidate contested the result of the election.  Perhaps not surprisingly, the then Democratic-controlled General Assembly decided in favor of the Democratic candidate.  However, as the Republicans control a significant majority of seats in that body, if asked to settle a contest today, presumably they would divide along party lines with Obenshain emerging as the victor.

Although a contest could allow the GOP to salvage some small measure of victory in an otherwise poor election year, without considerable proof of fraud or error, such a move would heavily tarnish any semblance of free and fair elections in Virginia.  Like the troubling decision to allow control of the lieutenant governor’s office to decide the power structure of the Virginia Senate in cases of a tie, I worry that there are elements within the Republican Party which would be willing to take this any methods necessary approach to thwart the will of the voters in the race for attorney general.

Andy Schmookler, my co-commentator and often political adversary on 550 AM, WSVA believes that Obenshain will not ask for a contest.  In the Augusta Free Press he wrote:

“A real conservative would not damage a pillar of the American political tradition by disrespecting the voice of the people expressed through voting.  It is at the heart of American democracy, because it is the means by which we confer power in an orderly and peaceful way.

“And as a matter of honor, a Virginia gentleman accepts the outcome of a duel fairly fought”

Although Andy and I disagree on a multitude of issues, I really hope he is right on this point.

Republican friends, I’m sure that I’d like see Senator Obenshain as our next attorney general as much as any of you.  But absent of proof of fraud, don’t lobby your legislators to overturn the November elections through a contest.  Sure, doing so may result in a short-term victory.  But the long-term consequences could be devastating.   The ends don’t justify the means.  Let’s let the recount and the voters determine the outcome, not 140 legislators in Richmond.

Obenshain’s First Ad

This morning, the Obenshain for Virginia Attorney General campaign released their first ad on YouTube.  As you will note, it focuses on the state senator’s family life and his record in the General Assembly.

Regarding the specific claims made in the video, the campaign also provided the following additional information:

Mark’s Record: 
Protecting Families from Abusive Spouses
In 2007, Mark Obenshain sponsored Senate Bill 1237, which instituted mandatory jail time for repeat violators of protective orders.
In 2008, he sponsored Senate Bill 540, which ensured swift entering and transfer of protective orders to the Virginia Criminal Information Network system.
Mandatory Life Sentences for Child Predators
In 2012, he sponsored Senate Bill 436, which imposed a mandatory life sentence to those who would rape young children.
Making Virginia a Better Place for Jobs
He believes that the key to making Virginia the top state in which to do business is low taxes, a rational regulatory environment, and a level playing field. He has consistently fought for low taxes and a reasonable regulatory burden his entire career. In 2005, he sponsored legislation to require an economic impact analysis on new regulations affecting small businesses. He has supported incentives to bring and retain good jobs in Virginia, including through a favorable tax policy for small business and major job creation efforts. He sponsored legislation, opposed by his opponent in this race, to remove the union preference from major public works projects, evening the playing field for companies in Right to Work Virginia.
Require state government to take impact on small business into account when passing new regulations: SB 1122 of 2005
Even Playing Field for Non-Union Businesses: SB 242 of 2012
Small Business Investment Grant Fund: SB 344 of 2012
Small Business Jobs Grant Fund: HB 943 of 2010
Major Business Facility Job Credit (Expansion): SB 472 of 2010 and SB 368 of 2012
Farm Wineries and Vineyards Tax Credit: HB 1837 of 2011
Virginia Coal Employment and Production Incentive Tax Credit (Extension): SB 1111 of 2011

Positive and upbeat, this ad stands as a refreshing contrast to much of the mudslinging that has dominated some of the other campaigns.

There is no doubt in my mind that Mark Obenshain will make an excellent attorney general.  I hope you will take the time to explore his record and, after doing so, you will join me in voting for Senator Obenshain on November 5th.

Cuccinelli Reverses Course

Earlier today, I wrote about Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s decision to try and alter Virginia’s election rules.  If successful, doing so would’ve allowed ballot access to candidates who did normally qualify for Virginia March 6th Republican Presidential Primary.

During the football game between the New York Giants and the Dallas Cowboys, I received an email from our Attorney General entitled, “Now that Everyone Is Upset With Me…”  In the message, Mr. Cuccinelli reiterates his earlier opinion that “Virginia needs to change its ballot access requirements for our statewide elections.”  However, he goes on to state, “…my concern grows that we cannot find a way to make such changes fair to the Romney and Paul campaigns that qualified even with Virginia’s burdensome system. A further critical factor that I must consider is that changing the rules midstream is inconsistent with respecting and preserving the rule of law – something I am particularly sensitive to as Virginia’s attorney general.”  As a result, he promises that he “will not support efforts to apply such changes to the 2012 Presidential election”.

In his concluding remarks, Ken Cuccinelli admits that this particular position was not for the best.  “But when convinced that my position is wrong, I think it necessary to concede as much and adjust accordingly.”  I cannot say what, if any, impact my earlier article made to switch his decision, but the most important factor is that he now recognizes this error. Many politicians arrogantly claim to never make mistakes in judgment.  However, I’m glad to see that our Attorney General proves himself to be of a higher caliber; not only is he taking responsibility, he is also reversing himself before it is too late.

I predict that this matter won’t tarnish Ken Cuccinelli’s reputation too much.  Nevertheless, this episode has provided Lt. Governor Bill Bolling, his opponent for the Republican nomination for Governor in 2013, a bit of ammunition.  As the Lt. Governor writes in a press release this evening, “Going forward, I would also encourage Attorney General Cuccinelli to avoid making public statements that criticize our state election laws while his office is defending the State Board of Elections in a lawsuit that has been brought against them by Governor Perry and certain other presidential candidates.  I am concerned that such public comments could be used against the Commonwealth in our effort to defend these lawsuits, and I am confident that the Attorney General would not want to do anything that could jeopardize his office’s ability to win this case.”  Yes, Lt. Governor, I certainly agree with your thoughts on this matter.

Although neither the Perry nor Gingrich campaigns will be happy to learn that they have lost an ally this evening, I’m pleased to report that Cuccinelli has reversed course.  Hopefully, when it comes to holding free and fair elections here in Virginia, the rule of law shall always prevail.

Bell Announces

In what will be at least the second Republican nomination fight in 2013, today Delegate Rob Bell of Albemarle County has announced his bid to be Virginia’s next Attorney General.

As a result, currently the field consists of two people, Delegate Rob Bell and Senator Mark Obenshain of Harrisonburg.  Personally, I find it rather interesting that two legislators who both represent a portion of Rockingham County are running for Ken Cuccinelli’s position.  This development makes me hopeful that the Shenandoah Valley will receive a little more attention in state politics in the near future.

Here is Delegate Bell’s letter which outlines his ideas for Attorney General:

Dear Friend:

Last week, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli announced that he will not be running for re-election. Today I am announcing my candidacy to be Virginia’s next Attorney General.


The Attorney General is Virginia’s chief law enforcement officer, and I would bring substantial experience to the job. I began work as a state prosecutor in Orange County in 1996. During my five years there, I worked with deputies and crime victims to prosecute more than 2,400 cases.  I prosecuted drunk drivers and domestic abusers and held them accountable for their actions.  I worked on horrifying cases of sexual abuse.  I made house calls to crime victims and gave them my home phone number, so they could reach me, day or night.
Since my election to the General Assembly in 2001, I have continued to spearhead the fight against crime. In 2004, we had a case where a sexual predator visited with students at a local elementary school while dressed as Santa Claus.  I wrote the law to keep people like him out of our schools. While serving in the prosecutor’s office, I prosecuted more than 100 DUI cases, including those where people were killed. In Richmond, I wrote laws to mandate jail for drunk drivers with high blood alcohol or who had kids in the car. Last year, after the tragic death of a student at U.Va., I patroned the bill to make it easier for threatened citizens to get protective orders.


We have had successes, but there is so much more to do. Every night, there are Virginians who bar their windows and lock their doors to keep dangerous criminals at bay.  I believe that’s backwards – it should be the criminals who are behind lock and key, not our citizens.  Our work will be not done until any Virginian can walk anywhere, anytime, without fear of being assaulted, robbed, or worse.  All Virginians – rich and poor – deserve safe neighborhoods.


Writing tough criminal laws has not been my only priority in the House of Delegates. After the Supreme Court stripped property rights away in the Kelo decision, I worked with then-Senator Ken Cuccinelli to pass a law to protect private property from abusive eminent domain. I am proud that this year we stand on the doorstep of enshrining these rights in the Virginia Constitution, and I plan on patroning the Resolution to do this. Like Senator Cuccinelli, my work was recognized by the Virginia Property Rights Coalition, which awarded me the John C. Marshall Award. In 2008, after the shooting at Virginia Tech, I worked with mental health workers and police, and patroned the bill to overhaul Virginia’s involuntary commitment laws.


I have been recognized as a conservative leader in the House, fighting against higher taxes and the expansion of government. I am proud that I received a designation from the American Conservative Union as a Defender of Liberty for my 100% score on their targeted votes.


I believe my experience as a prosecutor and a conservative lawmaker has given me the background to serve as Virginia’s next Attorney General. As Attorney General, I would continue to fight crime and to promote safer schools and neighborhoods.   I would carry on Attorney General Cuccinelli’s battle to rein in unconstitutional overreach by the federal Government.  I would fight to protect property rights and to eliminate unnecessary and burdensome regulations.


But this is not something I can do alone. I will need your prayers and ideas. Ultimately, to be successful, I will need your time and your financial support. Rob Bell Delegate, 58th District


I’m a conservative and a crime fighter. I ask for you to help me become Virginia’s next Attorney General.

If you would like to share your thoughts or to join the campaign, you can e-mail me at – I would love to hear from you.

Rob Bell
Delegate, 58th District

Exciting times.  I’ll provide more news on this race as it becomes available.

Obenshain Announces

Coming fast on the heels of Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s decision to seek the Governorship as opposed to re-election, I’ve now learned that State Senator Mark Obenshain of Harrisonburg has announced that he is exploring a bid for the Attorney General’s office in 2013.

If you are unfamiliar with Virginia politics, you might not know of my State Senator.  Well, Senator Obenshain currently represents the 26th district, encompassing a large chunk of the northern and central Shenandoah Valley; the territory includes all of the city of Harrisonburg, all of the counties of Page, Rappahannock, Shenandoah, and Warren, and the northern half of Rockingham County.  He was first elected in 2003 and was re-elected in both 2007 and 2011.  In both of his contested races, 2003 and 2007, Obenshain won with a convincing margin, 67.91 and 70.4% respectively.

Senator Obenshain has done well spreading his conservative message both within the 26th district as well as the rest of the state.  Given his touring of Virginia over the last many months, his decision to run for higher office comes as no surprise.  The unsolved issue was would he seek the Lt. Governor’s office or the Attorney General?  With Ken Cuccinelli’s recent decision to make a run for the top office, the question then became, when would Senator Obenshain announce his plans?  That answer is 12/2/2011.

Although a handful of Republicans have been floated around as interested in becoming our next Lt. Governor, namely Keith Fimian and Corey Stewart, there has been little talk of candidates for Attorney General, likely because of the now false assumption that Ken Cuccinelli would not seek higher office.  Mark Obenshain is the clear frontrunner at this point.  I make this point not merely due to the fact that he is currently the only candidate, but besides current members of the House of Representatives, it will be difficult for anyone to match Senator Obenshain in his name identification and loyal conservative following.

Senator Obenshain may be the first to announce for the Republican nod for Attorney General, but if history is any guide, he won’t be the only candidate.

Yes, it is an exciting time politically here in the Old Dominion.

Much Ado About Cuccinelli

Media outlets and political blogs everywhere have been buzzing about Virginia’s Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli since Monday’s court ruling striking down the heart of Obamacare as unconstitutional.  Although such news may come as a shock to some liberals, like the judge in the case, I think it is quite clear that the United States Constitution does not give the federal government the authority to force citizens to buy anything, let alone health insurance.  But, as there is already an overabundance of discussion on this topic, I’d like to switch gears.

Ken Cuccinelli has made quite a name for himself both in Virginia politics and nationally, first in our State Senate and now in our Attorney General’s office.  He has proven, through both his words and his deeds, that he is an ardent and effective conservative, a champion of the 10th Amendment, and a defender of liberty.  But one question constantly nagged me.  What office would Cuccinelli seek next?  Would he run for the U.S. Senate in 2012?  After all, the potential field is already getting crowded.  Perhaps he would make a move to join the ranks of men like Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, and James Monroe, becoming the next Governor of the Old Dominion?  Doing so would likely set up a showdown between himself and Bill Bolling.  Through recent statements, the Attorney General has left this potential door available.  Although I believe Cuccinelli could prevail, it could also set up a very ugly nomination contest.  I assume that many of us recall the feud between then Lt. Governor John Hager and AG Mark Earley that led to the victory of Mark Warner.  Still other pundits suggest that Cuccinelli should run for re-election to his current post.  Then again, given his increasing national attention, would an attempt to become the next Vice President or even President seem too far-fetched?  Well, about two hours ago, it seems that question has been finally answered.

Here is an email that I just received:

Dear Fellow Virginians,

Well, the liberals sure didn’t waste any time.

After news came out yesterday that a federal judge here in Virginia sided AGAINST President Obama and in favor of my argument that the federal government’s mandate to require you to purchase health insurance is unconstitutional, the liberals quickly began launching their attacks at us.

And they are coming after us with everything they’ve got.

So I’ll keep this short and sweet.  We are in for a long fight in this case that is certain to be decided by the Supreme Court.  And even though I strongly disagreed with the healthcare bill, our ongoing lawsuit isn’t about healthcare. It’s about liberty!

It’s no secret — I’m not the most popular person with liberals in America these days. The conservative leadership I’ve been working to provide in Virginia and across the country has drawn countless personal and political attacks from the left.

I’m encouraged that so many pro-freedom Americans – here in Virginia and across the country – have supported my efforts to stand up for our Constitutional rights.  But the flip side is that my political opponents are more determined than ever to smear me over the next 3 years and then defeat me when I’m next up for election.

That’s why I can’t just sit back and allow the left’s attacks on me to go unchallenged. And that’s why I can’t wait to gather the resources to fight back – so please help me by making a donation today!

I have kept my political committee open and active for three reasons:

1.    To give me the resources to respond when my political opponents attack me for doing my job … protecting Constitutional rights.

2.    Our side needs leadership now more than ever.  I’m trying to provide that leadership in Virginia and nationally.  Your donation will allow me to travel to provide leadership and campaign for good constitutional conservative candidates. We must increase the number of elected officials – at all levels of government – who will stand up for limited Constitutional government.

3.    And I must start building up my campaign warchest now in order to be ready for whatever the liberals throw against me when I run for re-election.

So please, make a donation right now to help me fight back TODAY by clicking here!

Make a donation right now!

Ken's Signature
Ken Cuccinelli, II
Attorney General of Virginia

Did you catch the answer?  “…When I run for re-election”?  So Ken Cuccinelli hopes to serve as our Attorney General for eight years?  Great!  I’m all for it.  Given his popularity, massive name ID, and the fact that Virginia hasn’t elected a Democratic Attorney General since Mary Sue Terry in 1989, barring any major setback, Cuccinelli should be a virtual lock for re-election three years from now.

Virginia and the nation need strong leaders who will stand for principle over petty political maneuvering and personal gain.  Conservatives must be bold and resolute, always defending our values and not caving in to the demands of “more government” simply because it is the easiest path.  As long as Ken Cuccinelli represents these ideals, I will proudly stand beside him, whatever office he may hold and encourage like-minded Virginians to do likewise.   KC 4 AG 2013!

Virginia Conservative Endorses Cuccinelli

As we are now less than two weeks from the Republican State Convention, I thought I should weigh in on the important Attorney General’s race.  For the attentive folks, you may have noticed that I’ve recently added two graphics links to my page.  One serves to remind you about the RPV Convention.  The other is a link to the Ken Cuccinelli for Attorney General campaign.  When it comes to selecting our next Attorney General, there are a myriad of reasons that can compel you to support a certain candidate and I would like to share with you my three most important reasons for choosing Senator Cuccinelli.

The first point is the issues.  State Senator Ken Cuccinelli has proven time and time again, not just with rhetoric, but with deed and legislation that he embraces the same limited government conservatism critical to the preservation of the liberty and prosperity of Virginia’s citizens. When it comes to abortion, Senator Cuccinelli has been a tireless advocate for the rights and lives of the unborn.  He has worked to deny funding to pro-abortion groups like Planned Parenthood, he has pushed legislation to end the horrid infanticide known as partial birth abortion, and he supports parental notification.  On immigration, the Senator has fought for the rights of citizens in denying immigrants who have entered the country illegally the same unearned benefits, such as in-state tuition for college students, driver’s licenses, and our jobs.  Senator Cuccinelli has fought against unconstitutional meddling by the federal government by standing firmly against the “Real ID” program.

The second point is endorsements.  Many politicians and political leaders I know and respect have also endorsed Senator Cuccinelli.  They include my own State Senator, Mark Obenshain, and Delegate, Matt Lohr.  In a discussion with Delegate Bob Marshall, he mentioned that the way I could best serve the conservative movement in Virginia was to work to ensure the nomination and election of Senator Cuccinelli, strong praise indeed I think you would agree.  Before becoming party chairman, Pat Mullins endorsed him.  So too have Morton Blackwell (president and creator of the Leadership Institute) and a number of other members of The Jeffersoniad.

Update: Sorry I missed the endorsement of the Republican Liberty Caucus of Virginia, another very important group.

The third point is Senator Cuccinelli’s courage and commitment to his principles.  When the General Assembly began to debate the merits of the Real ID, who led the rally against the measure?  Senator Cuccinelli.  What about standing for the rights of the family, property rights, abortion, and the whole host of pressing issues of the day?  Again, Senator Cuccinelli.  He doesn’t just vote correctly, he also actively speaks out, encouraging other politicians and activists to rally behind his strong example.  One event that still comes to the forefront of my mind was the nomination for Senator at last year’s convention.  Former Governor Gilmore had a nearly endless parade of supporters trot across the stage singing his praises.  Yet who stood for Delegate Bob Marshall?  Ken Cuccinelli and Ken Cuccinelli alone.  Although many in the convention hall supported Bob, only Senator Cuccinelli had the guts to speak in favor of Delegate Marshall.  Even if you favored Jim Gilmore, I still think that you have to admit what sort of courage and fortitude Senator Cuccinelli displayed that day.  I strongly believe that he will consistently display such resolve when serving as our next Attorney General.

Therefore, I am both pleased and honored to endorse Senator Ken Cuccinelli as Virginia’s next Attorney General.  I have no doubt that he is the most committed limited government conservative in this race and he will serve this state and her citizens exceedingly well.