Harrisonburg Attorney, State Senator Secures Nod On First Ballot
HARRISONBURG — State Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Harrisonburg, won the Republican nomination for attorney general at the GOP convention in Richmond on Saturday.
Obenshain, 50, won on the first ballot at about 4:15 this afternoon, beating out Del. Rob Bell, Del. Albemarle. Obenshain said Bell "ran a great campaign," adding that, "I just had a little more juice today."
Obenshain will face either Mark R. Herring or Justin E. Fairfax, both Democrats, in this fall’s election. The Democratic primary is set for June 11.
“Are you ready to fight!?” Obenshain prompted the crowd upon accepting the nomination at the Richmond Coliseum.
If elected, Obenshain said, he would fight what the GOP has called onerous regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency and would work to scale back the affordable health care act, often referred to as ObamaCare. The current attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli, was the first state attorney general in the nation to challenge the health care law after it was passed in 2010.
Also at the convention Saturday, Cuccinelli accepted the nomination for governor. He will face businessman and former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe in November.
Obenshain, who is in the midst of his third, four-year term in the state Senate, is the son of the late Richard Obenshain, often described as the architect of the modern-day Republican Party in Virginia. Richard Obenshain served as chairman of the state party and helped bring the GOP back to prominence after decades of overwhelmingly Democratic majorities in both chambers of the General Assembly. He won the nomination for U.S. Senate In 1978, but on Aug. 2 of that year, on his way home from a campaign event, the 42-year-old Obenshain was killed in a plane crash.
Many political observers believed it was just a matter of time before his son Mark entered politics and sure enough, he ran for and won the 26th District Senate seat in 2003, a seat he easily won reelection to in 2007 and 2011. His sister, Kate Obenshain, also has made her mark in Republican politics. Currently a conservative commentator and vice president of Young America's Foundation, Kate Obenshain is a former chairwoman of the state Republican Party.
When Mark Obenshain announced last year that he would seek the Republican nomination for attorney general this year, it came as a surprise to almost no one, as a shot at the AG post was long thought to be Obenshain’s next step in his political career.
Obenshain noted his father's role in rebuilding the GOP and said he shares the principles that prompted his dad to get into politics.
"The philosophy of freedom that motivated him is something that motivates me," Obenshain said after winning the nomination. "It does create a called action for me."
Attorney general has traditionally been a stepping stone to the governor’s mansion — the current governor, Bob McDonnell, and the current GOP gubernatorial nominee, Cuccinelli, both were elected attorney general. It remains to be seen, though, whether Obenshain will take that leap in four years if he beats Herring or Fairfax in the fall.
The Daily News-Record will have a complete report on this story in Monday’s print and online editions.