More than 2.2 million people cast their votes last Tuesday to determine Virginia’s next Attorney General — and the race is a virtual tie.
As of Monday morning, Republican state Sen. Mark Obenshain held a razor-thin, 17-vote lead over Democratic state Sen. Mark Herring. Obenshain had racked up 1,103,443 votes to Herring’s 1,103,426.
Here’s a look, from the Virginia Board of Elections’ website:
But things changed Monday afternoon when it was revealed that the votes from one machine in heavily Democratic Richmond had not been tallied. The Cook Political Report’s Dave Wasserman now puts the unofficial total as Herring with 1,103,579 and Obenshain with 1,103,480, a margin of just 99 votes.
In a race that has swung back and forth since last Tuesday night, Obenshain has seen his lead — which was once at 1,200 — shrink considerably over the past few days as provisional ballots were counted.
Wasserman, who has been chronicling the race and its aftermath, has a count here of the provisional ballots cast and accepted. Obenshain has a slight lead on Herring among those ballots (583-574), which are cast when a voter’s eligibility is in question. By Wasserman’s count, there are about 627 outstanding provisional ballots — only a fraction of which will be accepted.
An official recount is almost a certainty, and the outcome has significant implications.
A win for Republicans would serve as a saving grace for a party that lost both the governor’s and lieutenant governor’s seats in last week’s election. Since Virginia has a one-term limit for governors, a Republican win would likely set up a 2017 gubernatorial race between Obenshain and Lieutenant Governor-elect Ralph Northam (D).
If Herring wins, Democrats will have completed a sweep of major offices in what was until recently a red state. Republicans have held the AG position for the past 20 years. Taking the post back would mean Democrats in all five statewide offices in Virginia, including its two U.S. Senate seats, for the first time since 1970.
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