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2013 races

Virginia News Headlines: Tuesday Morning

by: lowkell

Tue May 06, 2014 at 06:33:30 AM EDT

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Tuesday, May 6.

*A divided court votes in favor of prayer at council meetings (We need to keep electing Democrats as President so we can change it from the right-wing activist court it is now.)
*Clashes bring new setbacks to Ukraine's forces
*Voting Rights Act fixes should get a vote in the House and Senate
*Benghazi and the Bombshell ("Is Lara Logan too toxic to return to 60 Minutes?")
*The Latest Benghazi Freakout In Ten Sentences (I can do it in six words: "Republicans suffer from Obama Derangement Syndrome.")
*Boko Haram 'to sell' Nigeria girls abducted from Chibok (This is totally f'ed up.)
*For Justices, Free Speech Often Means 'Speech I Agree With' (This Supreme Court is in competition for "worst ever.")
*White House Tells Executives to Skip Meeting Hosted by Putin
*Virginia poultry exports to China resume for first time since 2007
*Senate Democrats urge GOP to offer health proposal
*Kaine, Warner call for federal action after Lynchburg train derailment ("Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine called on the Obama Administration to move quickly with new regulations to ensure that rail shipments of crude oil are handled safely, prompted by the oil spill and fire that followed last week's derailment in Lynchburg of a Yorktown-bound oil train")
*A friend of the court speaks out against former AGs' view that McDonnell charges should be dismissed
*Democrats vying to succeed Moran meet at GMU forum
*Bolling gives $15,000 for Virginia GOP tech revamp
*McAuliffe to Meg Ryan, Bo Derek: Shoot in Virginia
*Norfolk, Chesapeake: Take the time to vote
*Iraq War veteran mounts challenge to 11-term incumbent Rep. Bobby Scott
*Today is Election Day in Norfolk, Chesapeake and North Carolina
*Wizards win first Round 2 playoff game since the Reagan administration ("Bradley Beal and Trevor Ariza led the way as Washington pounced on the top-seeded Pacers.")
*Drier and near 70 ahead of a warm surge due to arrive on Thursday

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Photos, Video: Alexandria St. Patrick's Day Parade 2014

by: lowkell

Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 14:28:08 PM EST

After watching for about 2 hours, I finally left, with the political marchers still a ways from moving out of their staging area. So...if anyone has photos or video of the candidates and their supporters marching, please post them here if you can. Thanks!

Discuss :: (18 Comments)

The William Hazel Reappointment

by: marj_signer

Wed Dec 18, 2013 at 15:35:51 PM EST

December 18, 2013

Virginia NOW - representing advocates for women's rights across the state - mobilized women to vote for Terry McAuliffe because of his commitment to advance the interests of women and families. Gov.-elect McAuliffe's announcement today of his reappointment of William Hazel as secretary of health and the actions that Hazel will take in that office are the first test of whether and how McAuliffe will keep the promises he made to Virginia women during his long campaign, both to expand Medicaid for low-income Virginians and to ensure reproductive health care is available to women. Both are critical for women and families.

McAuliffe often and prominently stated his promise to be a "brick wall" against further erosion of reproductive health including birth control and abortion. We will be watching the McAuliffe administration closely to see if he keeps his commitments to protect women's reproductive health access or whether he is trading women's health for Medicaid expansion.

We are heartened that McAuliffe today specifically mentioned seeking to roll back the medically unnecessary regulations of women's clinics that have already caused two clinics to close. But stopping the erosion is not enough. Hazel has shown no understanding of women's reproductive health needs. Women need a clearly stated commitment to expanding reproductive health care in the Commonwealth, which is ranked as one of the worst in the nation.

We placed our trust in McAuliffe based on his promises to women.

We now call on the governor-elect to use all the political and governmental resources at his disposal to make good on his promises.  

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BREAKING: GOP Nominates Anti-Semitic "Joke" Guy for VA State Senate

by: lowkell

Mon Dec 16, 2013 at 21:43:26 PM EST

Yep, they really did.

@ClarkeGOP tweets, "John Whitbeck wins 33rd VA Senate Republican nomination with 70% of vote !!!"

See the video below of Whitbeck "joking" around. As if that's not bad enough, he's also a far-right winger in general (the normal/sane Republican, Joe May, is running as an independent). What a party, huh? (Abe Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, etc. all rolling around in their graves)

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Virginia AG Recount Open Thread. UPDATE: Obenshain Concedes to Herring

by: lowkell

Mon Dec 16, 2013 at 17:14:28 PM EST

In addition to the excellent background diary posted by Dan Sullivan this morning, it seems to me that an "open thread" on the Virginia AG "recount" is in order. Note that this spreadsheet, being updated by @Taniel and @notlarrysabato, is an excellent source for the latest numbers. As of 5:12 pm, Mark Herring has picked up 183 votes, while Mark Obenshain has picked up 92 votes, for a net increase of 91 votes for Herring and a lead of 256 votes (up from 165 votes at the start of the "recount").

UPDATE 8:22 pm: Adam Zuckerman of the Herring campaign reports, "Final results: Herring +907. Herring 1,105,045. Obenshain 1,104,138."

UPDATE 4:07 pm: Talking Points Memo reports: "'As we near the conclusion of the recount I'm confident that the final total of the recount is going to show Mark Herring ahead,' Obenshain said Wednesday at a press conference. Obenshain added that the attorney general race is 'over.' He said he called Herring earlier in the day to concede the race."

UPDATE 12:56 pm: ‏@benpershing tweets, "Odd scene at #vaag recount court in Richmond, lawyers keep arguing over ballots even though Obenshain will concede." Ha, gotta love lawyers!

UPDATE 12:35 pm: The @washingtonpost tweets, "#BREAKINGNEWS: Republican candidate Obenshain will concede in Virginia AG race " :) @MSchmidtRTD adds, "@MarkObenshain to hold news conference at 3pm. Several sources indicate he may be conceding in #VAAG race before court wraps recount today"

UPDATE 11:51 am Wednesday: Per WRIC, "Herring's campaign says the 866-vote edge has been reached with 73 percent of the recount statewide completed."

UPDATE 8:35 pm: @BrianSchoeneman tweets about Fairfax County's results: "Final unofficial numbers until we finish double check: Obenshain +206, Herring +572. Net Herring + 366. 13 challenged ballots."

UPDATE 5:04 pm: @notlarrysabato tweets, "1158/2558 in- margin is 632.  Mark Herring 1,104,510-- Mark Obenshain 1,103,878.  This one's over folks"

UPDATE 4:54 pm:  ‏@benpershing tweets, "Loudoun has completed its #VAAG recount: Herring net gain of 62 votes, w/ 2 challenged ballots sent to Richmond." @Taniel tweets, "Insane: Thanks to Loudoun, Mark Herring's lead has now broken the 600-vote barrier -- 632, to be exact!"

UPDATE 3:34 pm: I'm told that Herring picked up 2 votes in PW County.

UPDATE 2:42 pm: Herring campaign attorney Marc Elias said that there's a lot of counting going on, with data flowing in every minute. Having said that, as of 2:25 pm today, 49% of the state has been recounted, and Herring has gained 742 votes, Obenshain 300, for a net increase of 442 votes (and a 607 net margin for Herring). What's most important, in Elias' view, isn't the absolute numbers but what the trend is and how the recount is shaping up. One question is trying to figure out which challenges might or might not be upheld. But the number of challenges isn't that great (there are under 100 so far) and are highly unlikely to change the outcome. (note that there have been more challenges to Herring ballots than to Obenshain ballots)

There's More... :: (44 Comments, 409 words in story)

Herring campaign "completely confident" that "recount" will reconfirm his election as AG

by: lowkell

Wed Dec 11, 2013 at 17:38:07 PM EST

I was on a conference call this afternoon with the Herring campaign, updating reporters on the status of the "recount." First, here's an update from Mark Herring for AG campaign manager Kevin O'Holleran:

*Attorney General-elect Herring has been meeting with former Attorneys General and attorneys from around Virginia about issue areas he will confront when he becomes Attorney General in early January 2014.
*Plans for inaugural events are in the works, more details coming soon.

Now, here's an update from Herring Legal Counsel Marc Elias:

*As a result of the canvass, which was very thorough, Mark Herring came out with a lead of 164 votes. Then, the State Board of Elections certified that Mark Herring won the election by 165 votes. So "we have now been through two counts...and both of them have confirmed the same thing, which is that Mark Herring won this election, and simply received more votes than Mr. Obenshain."
*We are now in the "recount, the last and final piece of the counting process."
*"We have spent the last week or two trying to work collaboratively where we could with the other side and then ultimately with the court to...conduct an orderly recount."
*"We remain completely confident that at the end of that process, it will reconfirm what we already know, which is that Mark Herring won the election and will be the Attorney General."
*The Herring campaign has done its "own version of a canvass," by gathering all the voting records available from around the state, and "we remain completely confident in the integrity of the process to date, and we see nothing that would cast any doubt on the election returns that...we are likely to see confirmed next week."

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It's High Time to Change Virginia's Code Regarding Contested Elections

by: lowkell

Wed Dec 11, 2013 at 09:05:32 AM EST

Yesterday, we heard that Mark Obenshain's high-priced, overeager attorneys raised, for the first time publicly, the prospect of contesting Virginia's Attorney General election, "if the tally does not sway the result in the Republican's favor." Of course, first we have to see the results of the (inaptly-named) "recount," because for all we know it could widen Democrat Mark Herring's lead by thousands of votes, or it could theoretically vault Mark Obenshain into the lead. Still, the fact that Obenshain's lawyers are even raising the prospect of contesting the election is outrageous, and makes it clear that changing Virginia's code regarding contested elections should be a top priority of the 2014 Virginia General Assembly.

Currently, the Code of Virginia (e.g., the statutory law of our Commonwealth) has the following to say (in § 24.2-804) about contesting elections for Governor, LG or AG.

In any election for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, or Attorney General, notice of the intent to contest the election shall be filed with the Clerk of the House of Delegates as prescribed in § 24.2-803. The provisions of § 24.2-803 shall govern standing, notice of intent to contest, answers, service of process, evidence, the petition, procedures, relief, and assessed costs except (i) that in a contest of an election held at the November general election the petition shall be filed within two days following the commencement of a special session of the General Assembly called for the purpose of hearing the contest or of the next regular session of the General Assembly, whichever first occurs, and (ii) that the final determination shall be made by the General Assembly, both houses sitting in joint session in the hall of the House of Delegates, with the Speaker of the House of Delegates presiding.
As for the criteria and procedures to be followed in a contested election, § 24.2-803 spells out vague "objections to the conduct or results of the election accompanied by specific allegations which, if proven true, would have a probable impact on the outcome of the election." Lame.

There are two major problems here that need to be rectified, ASAP. First off, the LAST body a contested election should be determined by is the partisan (whether Democratic or Republican-controlled) General Assembly. Instead, there should be a bipartisan or (preferably) nonpartisan committee or other body, possibly comprised of retired legislators and/or judges, that determines contested elections. That would take the decision largely out of the political realm and give the public confidence that there's legitimacy in our electoral process. Right now, the way contested elections are decided, there would be very little confidence or legitimacy if, let's say, an overwhelmingly Republican legislature decided an election contested in favor of a Republican (in this case, Mark Obenshain), even if the Republican  trails by 165, 200, 300 votes...whatever. Same thing if it were the other way around, and an overwhelmingly Democratic legislature reversed SBE-certified election results to put a Democrat in office. Not acceptable.

Second, we need to make the criteria and procedures for contested elections a LOT more specific and rigorous than the loosy-goosy verbiage in the code right now ("objections to the conduct or results of the election accompanied by specific allegations which, if proven true, would have a probable impact on the outcome of the election"). That's so vague, high-priced lawyers could drive a Mack truck through it. Instead, the code should spell out the exact "allegations" that would qualify, the magnitude and degree of such "allegations," etc. Then, those "allegations" would be submitted to the (preferably) nonpartisan body noted above for analysis and ultimately a decision. No, it will never be perfect, but it would be a huge improvement over the unacceptable situation we've got right now.

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Mark Obenshain Claims Problems with Fairfax County Ballot Security

by: lowkell

Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 13:59:15 PM EST

What on earth is this?!? Are these people serious? (UPDATE 2:13 pm: the Daily Press quotes Fairfax County Electoral Board secretary Brian Schoeneman (R) that "the ballots were locked in the precinct carts, so no one could have accessed them," so they "were still secure." Looks like Obenshain's camp is flailing around for anything, pretty much)
In response to ballot security problems recently discovered in Fairfax, Mark Obenshain, by counsel, submitted a motion for the Court to help give voters confidence in the integrity of the process. Virginia law requires counted and unused ballots to be transported to the Clerk not later than the day after the election. The certification filed by the Fairfax Clerk shows that election materials, including counted and unused ballots, remained unprotected by the legally-mandated security measures for nearly a month after the election. The certification reveals that some counted ballots as well as some unused ballots were not transported to the Clerk's office until after the statutorily-required deadline, with ballots transported on multiple dates, including on November 13, November 20, November 26,  and December 5. To date, moreover, the campaigns have yet to receive certifications - which were due last Friday - from many localities, rendering it impossible to ascertain if there were divergences from legally-mandated security measures elsewhere in Virginia.

In the motion regarding special procedures for Fairfax County and other non-compliant jurisdictions, it is noted that, "The role of a recount is to ascertain the true count the ballots cast in the election. This is a task that cannot be performed without knowing that the ballots presented to the recount officials are, in fact, the same ballots that were cast in the election and that no ballots have been added or deleted."

Speaking about the motion, Obenshain Counsel William H. Hurd said, "Given the ballot security problems recently discovered in Fairfax, as well as the possibility of other departures from law in other jurisdictions, we are looking for clarity and transparency in what happened. Our goal remains to ensure that every legitimate vote is counted, and that Virginia voters can have confidence in the result."

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McAuliffe Campaign Manager Warns: "How to steal an election in 3 easy steps"

by: lowkell

Sat Nov 30, 2013 at 16:36:20 PM EST

I'm  mostly taking a little break for Thanksgiving, but I received this email a little while ago and thought it was worth passing along. One the holiday is over, Virginians' attention will almost certainly be drawn back to the Attorney General's race drama, including the possible scenarios McAuliffe campaign manager Robby Mook outlines below. 

Lowell, democracy is a great thing... unless you lose.

Seriously — this could happen in Virginia:

1) Virginians' votes are counted and Democrat Mark Herring wins
2) Republicans file for a recount and still lose
3) 87 Republican Legislators declare Republican Mark Obenshain the winner anyways

We can't allow the Tea Party to nullify 2.2 million Virginians' votes and steal this election.

The Richmond Times Dispatch outlined how Mark Obenshain and the Tea Party wing could take the nuclear option:

"Obenshain could initiate what state law calls a 'contest' in which the 140-member legislature decides the attorney generalship by a majority vote. That would be a minimum of 71... There are 87 Republican legislators. Many of them don't like one bit that their party could be completely shut out of statewide office."

It is absolutely outrageous that the Tea Party could decide to throw out every single vote that was cast just because they don't like the outcome of the election.

We can stop this from happening — but only if our legal rapid response fund has all the resources it needs.

Thanks for fighting for democracy,


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Actually, Virginia, This Isn't Really a "Recount"

by: lowkell

Thu Nov 28, 2013 at 08:58:40 AM EST

You've probably noticed that just about every news article on what's about to happen with the Virginia Attorney General's race has referred to a "recount." But after talking to Ben "Not Larry Sabato" Tribbett last night, I'm convinced that this is at least somewhat misleading. In fact, as Ben explained, potentially many thousands (he estimates 25,000-50,000) of "undervotes" (e.g., in which a vote was not recorded, for whatever reason, for Attorney General) - plus potentially thousands more "overvotes" (e.g., in which a voter appeared to have voted for both candidates in the AG race) - have not yet been counted the FIRST time. So...instead of being a pure "recount," the following few weeks will actually see the FIRST count of many ballots in Virginia, namely those that couldn't be read the first time (for a variety of reasons) by optical scan machines (note that VPAP estimates "712,000 of those ballots were cast statewide this year.").

For more on procedures for optical scan machines, which are the main issue here with regard to possible "undervotes" and "overvotes," see the Code of Virginia. Here's the key part:

For optical scan tabulators, the recount officials shall rerun all the ballots through a tabulator programmed to count only the votes for the office or issue in question in the recount and to set aside all ballots containing write-in votes, overvotes, and undervotes. The ballots that are set aside, any ballots not accepted by the tabulator, and any ballots for which a tabulator could not be programmed to meet the programming requirements of this subdivision, shall be hand counted...
Another question Ben and I discussed was whether the optical scan machines did what they're supposed to do in the first place, which would be to reject any "votes" not clearly marked, so that they could have been either an "overvote" or an "undervote." On the "overvote," an example would be someone filling in the bubble for Herring, then realizing they meant to vote for Obenshain, so they crossed out the Herring bubble and filled in the Obenshain bubble, even circling it to make clear that they mean to vote for Obenshain. The machine should have rejected that as an "overvote" - a vote for both Herring and Obenshain - since it's not "smart" enough to determine what's going on in that case. That will take a human being, and that has not happened yet - and won't until the inaptly-named "recount" takes place.  Of course, if the machines mistakenly counted "overvotes" and/or "undervotes," then we've got even more issues to deal with.

Anyway, the bottom line is that there are thousands of ballots where - for a variety of reasons - the optical scan machines might not have been able to determine the intent of the voter. In those cases, what's supposed to happen in the "recount" is that these ballots will be examined by human beings to determine what the voter's intent was. For instance, if a bubble was marked for Obenshain, but not darkly enough for the machine to read, that's obviously a vote for Obenshain. Or, if someone marked an "x" through the bubble for Herring and the machine couldn't read it, that would clearly be a vote for Herring. Etc, etc. These are determinations that, in the end, only human beings - not machines - can make. And they haven't been made previously, so again this isn't a "recount" of those ballots, it's a FIRST count of ballots that had not been counted previously (at least for the races in which there were "undervotes" or "overvotes").

There's More... :: (14 Comments, 652 words in story)

I'm Betting on Obenshain Acting Honorably

by: Andy Schmookler

Tue Nov 26, 2013 at 14:59:36 PM EST

( - promoted by lowkell)

The following piece has run in several Virginia newspapers, including today in the Lynchburg News & Advance.

Earlier this month, an alarm about Virginia's razor-close Attorney General's race sounded in some Democratic circles. Adam Swerver, in an article posted on the MSNBC website, declared that even if the defeat of Republican candidate Mark Obenshain is confirmed in a recount, he might still be able to have himself declared the winner by the Virginia state legislature, which is dominated by Republicans.

Swerver's article quoted University of Kentucky law Professor Joshua Douglas describing the plausibility of such a move. Swerver concluded that "the only thing stopping Republicans from ordering a new election or declaring him (Obershain) the winner would be fear of a political backlash or their own self-restraint."

When reported on the Democratic website Blue Virginia, this article generated many responses. Opinions differed about the chances of Republicans succeeding with such a gambit, but there was little faith that scruples would hold them back from stealing the election. One response: "The va GOP will do ANYTHING to win cheat or steal an election."

I don't know whether state Senator Obenshain can gain the office through such a power-grab. But I bet he won't.

There's More... :: (9 Comments, 476 words in story)

Audio: Bob McDonnell Says Mark Obenshain Should Ask for Recount; Winner Likely "Before Christmas"

by: lowkell

Tue Nov 26, 2013 at 14:34:43 PM EST

Here are Gov. Bob McDonnell's thoughts on the Virginia AG's race situation. Among other things, McDonnell says "there's no winner or loser yet" in the AG's race, so he hasn't called Mark Herring to congratulate him (despite the fact that the State Board of Elections yesterday certified Herring's win); that Mark Obenshain should ask for a recount (McDonnell: "I would"); that there likely will be "multiple court hearings" in this process; and that Virginia "conducts fair and competent elections, and I haven't heard anything system-wide that would lead me to think anything different about this [election]." McDonnell also foresees a winner "before Christmas," which would strongly imply that Mark Obenshain will NOT contest the election (since if he did, it would almost certainly drag on past Christmas).

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Lieutenant Governor-Elect Ralph Northam announces Transition Team and Administration Posts

by: lowkell

Mon Nov 25, 2013 at 15:47:20 PM EST

Congratulations to DPVA Political Director (and former Chair of the Alexandria Democratic Committee) Clark Mercer on being named Lt. Governor-elect Northam's Chief of Staff. It's a great pick, although certainly a big loss for the Democratic Party of Virginia. Will the last person left there please turn out the lights? ;)  Also, congratulations to Michael Matthews on being named LG-elect Northam's Director of Constituent Services and Scheduling.
Today Virginia Lieutenant Governor Elect Ralph Northam announced two senior staff hires for his administration and the Co-Chairs of his transition team. Clark Mercer has been named as Chief of Staff and Michael Matthews as Director of Constituent Services and Scheduling.

The Co-Chairs of his transition team from around the state are:

Jane Batten
Don Beyer, Former Lieutenant Governor and Ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein
Senator Barbara Favola
Eva Tieg Hardy, Former Secretary of Health and Human Services
Senator Donald McEachin
Dr. Alan Wagner

"The team we have put together share my vision for the Commonwealth and have committed their careers to the kind of pragmatic, bi-partisan leadership I will bring to the Virginia Senate and the office of Lieutenant Governor. I am confident that Clark and our Transition Chairs will lay the groundwork for an office committed to working across the aisle for commonsense policies that keep Virginia's economy strong. I am honored that each of these individuals has agreed to be a part of the Lieutenant Governor's office as we set a course for a very bright future here in the Commonwealth," said Lieutenant Governor elect Ralph Northam.

Clark Mercer: Chief of Staff
Clark Mercer previously served as Political Director of the Democratic Party of Virginia and Deputy Director for Policy and Research for Mark Warner's Senate Campaign. Originally from Alexandria, Mercer served as a Professional Staff Member on the congressionally chartered Commission on Wartime Contracting, which Senator Jim Webb co-sponsored, and as a consultant with LMI Government Consulting. The former Chairman of the Alexandria Democratic Committee from 2009-2011, Mercer now resides in Ashland with his wife, Kelly, and son, Everett, and daughter, Cecilia. Mercer received his Bachelor's Degree from Yale University and his Master's Degree in Public Policy from George Washington University's Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration.

Michael Matthews: Director of Constituent Services and Scheduling
Michael served most recently as the director of scheduling for Ralph Northam's campaign for Lieutenant Governor. Michael previously worked as part of the Democratic Party's coordinated campaign in 2012. Mathews received his bachelor's degree from the University of North Florida  

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Virginia State Board of Election Certifies McAuliffe, Northam, Herring Victories!

by: lowkell

Mon Nov 25, 2013 at 10:19:32 AM EST

Today's the day, finally, when the Virginia State Board of Election certifies the state's election results from November 5. Photo to the right courtesy of Del. Bob Brink's Facebook page...posted 6 minutes ago. Updates as I get them...

UPDATE 10:21 am: Ed Sykes ‏(@EdSykes29) of NBC29 tweets, "SBE Chair Judd & Secretary Palmer publicly reviewing #VAAG results from each Virginia locality" (Sykes later corrects to say it's actually Judd and "Chris Piper, Mgr of Election Services")
UPDATE 10:29 am: The State Board of Elections (@VirginiaSBE) tweets, "Certification of results of the November 5, 2013 general election is underway at the General Assembly Building."
UPDATE 10:34 am: Markus Schmidt (‏@MSchmidtRTD) of the RTD tweets, "SBE members about to sign attorney general certificate for @SenMarkHerring #Vagov " (see photo below)
*UPDATE 10:34 am: Julian Walker (@PilotOnPolitics) of the Virginian Pilot tweets, "After certification count #vaag, @SenMarkHerring  leads @MarkObenshain by 165 votes out of 2.2 mill"
*UPDATE 10:44 am:  ‏@EdSykes29 tweets, "Wow - SBE Chair Charlie Judd, in a personal statement, says he casts his vote 'with question' over the integrity of the election data" (note that Judd is a big-time Republican)
*UPDATE 10:47 am: @MSchmidtRTD tweets, "Wondering if Judd's concern with integrity of election opened the door for @MarkObenshain to contest if recount won't sway results." Sure seems like it.
*UPDATE 10:51 am: OK, Senator Obenshain, since you're such a "fiscal conservative," why not save Virginia taxpayers some money and concede the race, since you were just certified by the SBE as having LOST it?!?
*UPDATE 10:56 am: @jeisrael of ThinkProgress tweets, "McDonnell's SBE chair doesn't trust own agency."
*UPDATE 10:59 am: @QuentinKidd of Christopher Newport University tweets, "SBE Chair Charlie Judd calls into question the integrity of the election.."
*UPDATE 11:00 am: Check this out: "Charles E. Judd worked for Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority from 1984 to 1988...was executive director of the Ohio GOP from 1977 to 1979 -- when he became deputy finance director of the Republican National Committee and moved to Virginia." Hmmm.
*UPDATE 11:02 am: Rep. Gerry Connolly's Chief of Staff ‏@JamesWalkinshaw tweets, "Congrats to Attny Gen-elect @SenMarkHerring. Election results are certified. Note to media...He is no longer 'ahead by 165 votes.' He won."
*UPDATE 11:08 am: @chelyendavis of the F'burg Free Lance Star tweets, "In statement, @MarkObenshain lists Va recount history, says recount decision 'not to be made lightly'. Is considering it, has 10 days." That's bizarre; I mean, he hasn't been "considering" it for a couple weeks now?!?
*UPDATE 11:38 am: See Obenshain, Herring statements in the comments section of this post.
*UPDATE 11:49 am: Obenshain asserts - "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." I found three statewide elections - Washington State Governor 2004; Vermont Auditor of Accounts election in 2006; Minnesota U.S. Senate race 2008 - that were reversed in a recount. Initially, the Republican was leading in all three, but after the recount, the Democrat won in all three. Interesting...
UPDATE 1:49 pm: Per the Daily Press, the Republican chair of the Virginia State Board of Elections says "he did not intend for his comments to encourage any legal challenge" and that "he had not been in contact with any of the campaigns or political parties about any problems they may have had with the count." Hmmmm.

Discuss :: (24 Comments)

Jeff Schapiro: Mark Obenshain Preparing a "Nuclear Option" to Steal the Virginia AG Election?

by: lowkell

Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 08:19:30 AM EST

On November 16, I raised a red flag that Mark Obenshain and the Republicans could be preparing to "contest" the Virginia Attorney General's election, thus sending it to the Republican dominated Virginia General Assembly for a decision. Some claimed I was worrying too much (note: Sen. Chap Petersen agreed that this was something to keep an eye on), but mostly I just wanted to make people aware that this was a serious possibility.

So this morning, I was pleased to see one of Virginia's top political analysts, Jeff Schapiro of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, basically agreeing with everything that I said.

Republican Mark Obenshain is trailing Democrat Mark Herring for attorney general by 164 votes. Obenshain could win with as few as 71 - with not a single one cast by an ordinary Virginian. It is a nuclear option that takes the election out of the hands of the electorate.

Obenshain could initiate what state law calls a "contest" in which the 140-member legislature decides the attorney generalship by a majority vote. That would be a minimum of 71. They shouldn't be too difficult for Obenshain to round up. There are 87 Republican legislators. Many of them don't like one bit that their party could be completely shut out of statewide office.

A contest would be high-risk. Democrats would almost certainly accuse Obenshain of stealing the election, having overridden the popular vote in an increasingly blue state. A contest also could be high reward. Obenshain would cement his status as his party's titular leader and its likely gubernatorial nominee in 2017. But the big issue that year would probably be Obenshain's scheming four years earlier.

I keep asking top-level Virginia Democrats why this reasoning is wrong, and I keep getting dead silence in response. Which, in my view, speaks volumes: that these people are VERY nervous about such a scenario, but hope that by not talking about it...well, I'm not sure, that it will just go away? The bottom line, from everything I've read and everyone I've talked to, is that Democrats can't legally stop Obenshain from contesting the election, thus throwing it to the Republican-controlled General Assembly. So again, I ask, why shouldn't we all be worried about this exactly? Because we assume the Republicans will "do the right thing?" (what, out of the goodness of their hearts?) Any reason to assume that?

P.S. The State Board of Elections is scheduled to certify the Virginia election results tomorrow. Then, Obenshain's team is almost certain to file for a recount, which he won't even have to pay for since the race is within 0.5 percentage points. After that, assuming that Mark Herring still leadds (which is a high likelihood, as recounts rarely change much), then it's crunch time for Obenshain et al - will they concede or contest? We should know within days.

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Jennifer Wexton Wins Dem Nomination for State Senate for Mark Herring's Seat; Turnout Miniscule

by: lowkell

Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 19:20:37 PM EST

The following results are courtesy of the Virginia Senate Democratic caucus held earlier today in the 33rd district (the one Mark Herring currently represents, and which he will be vacating presuming a recount confirms that he's won the Attorney General's race, as we all hope and expect). Congratulations to Jennifer Wexton, who is now the Democratic nominee to succeed Herring in the State Senate, presuming she wins the special election, whenever that's held. Also worth noting is that turnout was abysmally low for this caucus, at just 1,154 votes. That compares to last Saturday's Democratic caucus for Ralph Northam's seat in the 6th district, which had turnout of 4,879 voters. I'm not sure what the miniscule turnout for this caucus means exactly, but it's a bit worrisome if you ask me. Also...seriously? Just 1,154 votes cast to select a nominee for State Senate? In a district which has 110,000 registered voters, and which saw 14,061 votes for Mark Herring in the 2011 State Senate election? Hmmmm. I also don't fully understand the big rush to hold this caucus, which meant almost no coverage by anyone - blogs, newspapers, etc. - and no time for either candidate to campaign. The whole thing's kinda odd if you ask me.
Jennifer Wexton received more votes than Sheila Olem - 729-433.

We would like to congratulate both candidates for running an energetic and positive campaign, especially since they were given less than week to campaign.

Polling Place Totals:

Cascades (Loudoun County) - 392 Total Votes    Olem 108 (28%)   Wexton 283 (72%)
Leesburg (Loudoun County) - 415 Total Votes      Olem 84  (20%)   Wexton 331 (80%)
Herndon (Fairfax County) - 356 Total Votes         Olem 241 (68%)  Wexton 115 (32%)

County Breakdown:

Fairfax County - Olem 68%    Wexton 32%
Loudoun County - Olem - 24%  Wexton - 76%

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Mark Obenshain Demonstrates Yet Again Why He's Unfit to Be Attorney General of Virginia

by: lowkell

Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 08:54:09 AM EST

obenshaindemoperativeMark Obenshain actually posted this garbage (see image to the far right, appropriately - lol) on his Facebook wall, demonstrating that he knows absolutely nothing about how elections are stolen. In fact, as one commenter points out: "attempts to steal elections are made by passing laws to restrict citizens voting rights and changing vote counting rules right in the middle of counting the votes." You know, things like Mark Obenshain and his cronies do all the times. One thing's for sure, elections are most certainly NOT stolen by someone getting pissed off at being filmed by a GOP operative, pushing some chairs around, and putting his hand in front of the camera to block it. As the saying goes, "teh stupid, it burnzzzzzz."

By the way, this "Democratic operative" (John Farrell) actually didn't "attack" anyone. As Republican and Fairfax elections official Brian Schoeneman wrote: "Guys, chill. Nothing untoward happened here. It was an argument over space that got blown out of proportion. I've admonished John not to do this again and he's  agreed. Done. Move on." Apparently, this simple concept is not something that Mark Obenshain can understand, just like he claimed to not understand the implications of his own bill to criminalize miscarriages. Bottom line: this guy's either a liar or clueless, either option making him utterly unfit to be Attorney General of Virginia. Thank goodness this self-described clone of Ken Kookinelli appears to have lost the election to Mark Herring, who will restore the rule of law - not to mention basic competence for a change! - to the Virginia Attorney General's office.

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33rd Virginia Senate Democratic District Committee Announces Call to Caucus

by: lowkell

Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 17:32:10 PM EST

From the 33rd Senate District Democratic Committee:


RICHMOND – Pursuant to the Democratic Party Plan of Virginia, the 33rd Senate Democratic District Nominating Committee hereby calls an Unassembled Caucus for Saturday, November 23, for the sole purpose of choosing a Democratic nominee for the 33rd Senate District.

For the complete Call to Caucus and additional details regarding candidate qualification and eligibility to vote in this caucus, please click here to visit the information webpage. The polling locations and times for this caucus are as follows:


Rust Library Group Study Room
380 Old Waterford Road NW
Leesburg, VA 20176
Hours: 10am to 5pm

Cascades Library Conference Room B
21030 Whitfield Place
Potomac Falls, VA 20165
Hours: 12:30pm to 5pm


Herndon Community Center Meeting Room #3
814 Ferndale Ave
Herndon, VA 20170
Hours: 10am to 5pm


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Could Virginia Republicans Steal the Attorney General's Race?

by: lowkell

Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 18:00:00 PM EST

I saw this story on MSNBC ("The victor in Virginia's attorney general race stands a chance of losing") this morning, and have been talking to knowledgeable people about it all day. First, here's the gist of it:
Even if Democrat Mark Herring ends up with more votes than his Republican rival Mark Obenshain in the tightly contested Virginia attorney general's race, he could still lose.

Herring is currently ahead of Obenshain by a follicle-the current official count states that Herring has 164 more votes than Obenshain out of more than two million cast. A recount is all but guaranteed and litigation seems likely. But even if after the dust clears Herring remains in the lead, under Virginia law, Obenshain could contest the result in the Republican dominated Virginia legislature, which could declare Obenshain the winner or declare the office vacant and order a new election.

"If they can find a hook to demonstrate some sort of irregularity, then there's nothing to prevent them from saying our guy wins," says Joshua Douglas, an election law expert and professor at the University of Kentucky College of Law.  "There's no rules here, besides outside political forces and public scrutiny."

I checked the Virginia code for what it had to say on this. Here's the key part:
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Results Thread: 6th Senate District Democratic Caucus

by: lowkell

Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 14:34:20 PM EST

Today's Democratic caucus to nominate a candidate to replace Lt. Governor-elect Ralph Northam in the 6th Virginia Senate district closed at 2 pm today. The candidates are Del. Lynwood Lewis, former delegate Paula Miller, and Ralph Northam's LG Campaign Treasurer Andria McClellan. Please feel free to use this as an open thread to discuss the district and the results. I'll update with whatever I can find. Also note that this district went 57% for Barack Obama and 58% for Tim Kaine last year.

UPDATE 4:31 pm: Not that this will change the winner, but I'm hearing some serious disagreement about the total in Accomack, possibly off by 1,000 or so? (e.g., Ben Tribbett tweets, {"While Lewis won this election, here's another example of inability to correctly count votes- seems unlikely reported result is right"). We'll see, but in the end Lewis wins handily, regardless.
UPDATE 4:01 pm: According to this spreadsheet, the 100th House of Delegates district, which Lynwood Lewis has represented, went 55% for both Barack Obama and Tim Kaine last year. Of course, that doesn't mean it will be that way in a special election early next year. We'll see.
FINAL TOTAL: Lynwood Lewis 2,658 (55%); Paula Miller 1,292 (27%); Andria McClellan 929 (19%), Landslide for Lewis, basically...not even close.
*@notlarrysabato (3:37 pm) - "Norfolk results:  Miller 1173, Lewis 234, McClellan 778.  McClellan plays spoiler in Lewis's win."
*@notlarrysabato (3:25 pm) - "Lynwood will have about a 1,500 vote lead going into Norfolk.  It actually could be close if Miller pulls 75% there and he gets almost 0."
*@vpaige (3:24 pm) - "Northhampton Hampton Inn: McC 5, Miller 7, Lewis 349...Northampton totals: McClellan 29, Miller 21, Lewis 731"
*@notlarrysabato (3:09 pm) - "Source inside Norfolk counting room says Miller has won Norfolk, Lewis a distant 3rd, but McClellan pulls enough to ensure Lewis victory...Projecting Lynwood Lewis as the Democratic nominee for @RalphNortham seat now."
*@notlarrysabato (3:02 pm) - "Painter in, Lewis 210, McClellan 6, Miller 3." The totals are now Lewis 975, Miller 94, McClellan 103.
*‏@notlarrysabato (2:51 pm) - "Shore still coming in, with Norfolk also out: Lewis 765, Miller 91, McClellan 97.  (5 of 11 reporting)"
*‏@vpaige - "NH: Eastville:  Lewis 173, Mcclellan 6, Miller 6"
*@notlarrysabato  - "Norfolk total updated to 2238.  With 3 of 11 polls in (7 on shore, 1 in Norfolk left to report) Lewis 383, Miller 77, McClellan 73."
*@vpaige - "1 precint in Northampton: Lewis 209, McClellan 18, Miller 8"
*@vpaige - "Mathews: Lewis 136, Miller 48, McClellan 53"
*@notlarrysabato - "Bloxom on shore first poll in- Lewis 244, Miller 6, McClellan 2"
*@notlarrysabato - "Turnout counts (not sure these were all at 2 pm, need to see):  Norfolk 2,111, Accomack 840, Northampton 775, Matthews 238, VA Beach 44"
*‏@notlarrysabato (Ben Tribbett) - "If Lewis didn't break through in Beach, hes going to be squashed in Norfolk. But will McClellan take enough votes from Miller 2 elect Lewis?...Remember Lewis will probably win 90% of votes on the shore."
*‏@notlarrysabato (Ben Tribbett)  - "Virginia Beach reports first.  Paula Miller 23, Andria McClellan 18, Lynwood Lewis 3."
*‏@notlarrysabato (Ben Tribbett)  - "Remember- with Onzlee Ware (D-Roanoke) resigning, a Lewis victory means every House of Delegates committee goes from 15R-7D to 16R-6D"
*‏@notlarrysabato (Ben Tribbett) - "Around 2,000 voters in Norfolk- mostly for Paula Miller- but big turnout on Eastern Shore where Dems put eight polls to help Lynwood Lewis"

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