State Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Harrisonburg, Republican candidate for Attorney General, made his concession Wednesday.
Republican Mark Obenshain has conceded the race for Virginia attorney general, making the announcement at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon.
"The recount is almost over. And in this contest for attorney general that I was frankly starting to think was never going to end, it’s apparent that our campaign is going to home up a few votes short," Obenshain said.
Obenshain said he called Democrat Mark Herring to congratulate him on his victory earlier in the day.
The Republican sought a recount after losing by just 165 votes in the initial tally on Election Day to Herring. The recount is scheduled to be finished today, as Herring's camp say their lead had increased to more than 800 votes with almost three-fourths of the recount completed.
Despite the concession by Obenshain, the Recount Court is expected to gavel into session this morning to consider contested ballots. The race has been described as the closest in modern Virginia political history.
At the press conference, Obenshain vowed to return to his position in the state Senate and work for low taxes and educational choice — but also top find common ground with Democrats.
"In this campaign, Mark Herring and I both agreed that combating human trafficking and child predators should be priorities. And I'm sure that we are going to cooperate and work together on those issues and on others," he said.
Now that Herring is officially the winner, Democrats have swept all three statewide executive offices for the first time since 1989, and will hold all five statewide elected offices for the first time since 1968.
The fate of the state Senate remains in doubt, though. Because two of the winning candidates are sitting state Senators, that means both seats are now open for special elections — one in Loudoun County and another in Norfolk.
University of Virginia Center for Politics analyst Kyle Kondik says both seats are likely to be competitive. "These are Democratic districts on paper, but special election turnouts are going to be small and oftentimes those smaller turnouts are going to be Republican turnouts," he says.
Republicans still hold the House of Delegates, though, where they maintain an overwhelming majority — 67 Republicans to 31 Democrats. And under Senate rules, Republicans will maintain control over all Senate committees — even if Democrats win two special elections now underway.