2017      General Election       Elected 53 – 47

The Penultimate 2017 Make Virginia Blue Note

Mark Herring  https://herringforag.com/ is running for reelection as Virginia’s Attorney General.  His first election in 2015, when he was the first Democrat elected as Attorney General in over twenty years, is instructive about democracy:

  • Every vote counts.  When the votes were counted, Herring had won by 165 votes out of more than 2.2 million cast
  • If the technology doesn’t work, some votes might not count.  An optical scanner stopped working in Democratic-leaning Fairfax County.  Initially, 1,978 votes were not reported.  Similarly, there were 732 unreported votes in Republican-leaning Bedford County.  Upon review, all of those votes were counted.
  • The process requires attention. There was a battle over provisional ballots, ballots that were counted only if voters returned with the appropriate ID to prove they were legitimate voters.  The State Board of Election had complicated this problem when it purged 38,000 voters from the rolls shortly before the election.  Local Boards disputed the purging of some of those voters.  In the end, not many of those provisional ballots were counted.
  • The initial vote was not the final vote.  The final vote had Herring up by 907.
  • No matter by how little, winning means winning.  Virginia elected its first Democratic Attorney General in years.

Mark Herring’s primary in 2015 was pretty close, too. He beat Justin Fairfax, currently the Democratic candidate for Lt. Governor, by 4%.  In that contest, emphasizing his summer blue collar jobs, Mark Herring, was more the local pol  — a local lawyer, member of a Board of Supervisors, Town Attorney, and then state Senator.  Fairfax was a kind of prospective national figure — a national law school, a federal court clerkship, assistant US Attorney, member of a big firm.  Nevertheless, Mark Herring as Attorney General resembled many Democratic Attorneys General around the country.

Mark Herring demonstrated just how important a state Attorney General can be.  Virginia had passed a state constitution amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman.  Mark Herring refused to defend that amendment in federal court.  He filed motions to ask that the amendment be ruled inconsistent with the US Constitution.  Despite calls for Mark Herring’s impeachment, the amendment was ruled unconstitutional.

Mark Herring was in conflict with anti-abortion groups, too.  They claimed that heallowed abortion clinics to avoid compliance with legislated health and safety requirements.  This, too, generated calls for impeachment.

Mark Herring was in conflict with the gun lobby.   He refused to accept concealed carry licenses from other states, which meant, in a few of those states, Virginia’s concealed carry licenses would not be accepted.  This, too, generated calls for impeachment. 

Mark Herring filed a brief opposing Trump’s travel ban from six states,  He referred to Justice Harlan on segregation and described the executive order as “sowing the seeds of hatred”.  By this time, impeachment calls had faded.

Planning for a second term, he outlines the his priorities for dealing with the opioid crisis:

  • Law enforcement legislative initiatives that give police the authority to charge someone with intent to distribute while carrying a very small amount of fentanyl
  • Support for and monitoring of the medical community’s prescription system
  • Support for recovery by reducing the price of the opioid antidote and ensuring that health insurance policies cover alternative treatments for addiction’

No one will impeach him for dealing with opioids.

Nor did he get flack for the other office activities he describes:

  • helping prosecutors and rape victims by eliminating the backlog of untested rape kits
  • cracking down on gangs
  • cracking down on Medicaid fraud
  • requiring that Chesapeake Bay be cleaned up
  • creating a unit to work on crime against animal

Mark Herring’s reelection is not automatic.  At least one poll shows him tied with his opponent – who describes himself as a representative of “real conservative values.” The opponent describes himself as against liberal Democrats who believe the solution to every problem is “more government intrusion into personal lives.”  Notwithstanding his opposition to intrusion in people’s lives, he would, if he could, prohibit same sex marriage and abortion.  The opponent’s view of freedom of religion includes allowing businesses and religious institutions to impose their religious views or practices on employees and customers.

Virginians and all of us need to keep Mark Herring https://herringforag.com/as Virginia’s Attorney General.  Every Democrat Noted is important for all of us.  Help him if you can. Help other Virginia Democratic candidates if you can.