HARRISONBURG — Insult to political injury appeared to come to Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Harrisonburg, upon his return to the city from last year’s attorney general’s race, which he lost in a recount.
The downtown law firm he helped form in 2002 changed names from Lenhart Obenshain to Lenhart Pettit as part of a merger with a Charlottesville practice.
The merger requires that the “Obenshain” name be removed from the building.
“It was definitely an adjustment, especially coming back from a recount to see them taking my name off the side of the building,” he said after a laugh during a phone interview Friday.
But Obenshain has no hard feelings there — he’s “excited” about the firm’s 30 percent growth because of the merger, now having 30 lawyers and 65 employees — or with the election results.
On the latter, he’s happy for closure: At the end of election night on Nov. 5, it appeared as if he was winning; then, by Nov. 24, he was asking for a recount because he was down by just 165 votes; and, finally, on Dec. 18 he was conceding the race to Sen. Mark Herring, D-Loudoun.
He couldn’t prepare for a transition into the attorney general’s office or focus on his law firm.
“I was prepared to win. I was prepared to lose. I really wasn’t prepared for the electoral purgatory I found myself in with the recount,” Obenshain said. “It was a trying period, and I’m glad to be past it.”
Still, he would not have traded the last two years campaigning “for anything,” he said.
“Nobody knows Virginia quite like someone who runs for statewide office,” Obenshain said, adding that he has a greater appreciation for the commonwealth after visiting virtually every corner.
That raises the question of what’s to come for the Harrisonburg legislator in the next statewide election in 2017. In October, David McQuilkin, a retired political science professor from Bridgewater College, predicted Obenshain would run for governor, regardless of how the attorney general’s race turned out.
Time will tell what happens in four years.
“I guess we’ll have another election, won’t we?” Obenshain joked. “I don’t know what the future holds for me. I am definitely not finished serving the people of Virginia. …
“I need a little bit of time to decompress and take care of business, rebuilding my law practice and get over this past race, which physically, financially and emotionally was exhausting. I’m looking forward to a little more family time and working to build this statewide law practice.”
Contact Preston Knight at 574-6272 or firstname.lastname@example.org