Democrat Mark Herring is claiming victory in the seesaw race for Virginia Attorney General that currently gives him a 163-vote margin over Republican Mark Obenshain after local officials “finalized” their numbers and turned in the results before the deadline for doing so at midnight Tuesday.
Previously uncounted returns from Fairfax County increased Herring’s slight lead from 117 to 163. Obenshain picked up 103 votes.
The Virginia State Board of Elections now has until Nov. 25 to review everything and sign off on the final numbers, which are not expected to change by any significant margin and should remain pretty much the same.
If Herring’s 163-vote margin stands or any changes do not give Obenshain enough votes for finish ahead, the Democrat will be declared the winner but Obenshain can demand a recount because the margin of victory would be less than one percent of the vote.
The last time Virginians faced a recount in a statewide race was 2005 when Creigh Deeds came up 323 votes short of Bob McDonnell in the election for attorney general. The recount, however, didn’t help Deeds. McDonnell, now governor, picked up 37 votes and won by 360 votes. Deeds went on to lose again to McDonnell in the 2009 governors’s race — by a larger margin where a recount was neither requested or necessary.
Herring is saying “the voters of Virginia have spoken.”
Perhaps, but recounts in close elections can sometimes change what the voters say.