RICHMOND, Va. — The race for attorney general in Virginia remained undecided Wednesday, with a recount looking increasingly likely.
Unofficial results Wednesday afternoon put Republican Mark Obenshain of Harrisonburg up by 1,157 votes over Democrat Mark Herring of Loudoun out of 2.2 million votes cast, according to the State Board of Elections.
The vote total does not include provisional ballots cast in Tuesday’s election. Those are votes cast by people who went to the wrong precinct or did not have the required ID. Absentee ballots have been counted.
Local election officials have until Nov. 12 to finish certifying their counts. Then the state has until Nov. 25.
Neither candidate has claimed victory or conceded.
“Since the polls closed we have continued to gain votes to the point where, according to counts, only a few votes separate myself and my opponent,” Herring said early Wednesday. “We want to make sure all precincts are accounted for and results are accurate, all absentee ballots are counted and every Virginian who cast a provisional ballot has their voice heard.”
He told reporters earlier at the Democrats’ election night party that the contest would go to a state-funded recount because the margin was so narrow. The state pays for a recount if the margin is within one-half of a percentage point. If it’s more than that but less than 1 percentage point, a candidate can demand a recount at his or her own expense.
“The race is far from over and we’re going to make sure that we follow the process and make sure every single vote is counted,” he said.
Obenshain was the GOP’s only hope of avoiding a Democratic sweep of the top three statewide offices after Terry McAuliffe won the governor’s race and state Sen. Ralph Northam was elected lieutenant governor.
Herring and Obenshain are seeking to succeed Republican Ken Cuccinelli, who chose to run for governor rather than seek re-election.
The attorney general is essentially the CEO of the state government law office, supervising more than 400 lawyers and support staff. The position also is historically a stepping stone to a run for governor.
In the campaign, the 52-year-old Herring sought to portray Obenshain as a Cuccinelli clone, saying the Republican would pursue an extreme social agenda if elected. Herring, unlike those two Republicans, supports abortion rights and gay marriage. He also has been an advocate of tighter gun restrictions.
Obenshain, 51, steered away from hot-button social issues, pledging to protect Virginians from child predators, elder abusers and sex traffickers.
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