Checking in on the 2013 race for Virginia Attorney General…
The 2013 race for Virginia Attorney General seems to have been uneventful so far, at least when compared with the 2009 primaries. The 2009 primary season, you’ll recall, saw three strong Republican candidates–Ken Cuccinelli, John Brownlee and Dave Foster–participate in countless debates across the Commonwealth. In fact, I got the distinct impression that so many groups hosted so many debates in 2009 largely because people knew (1) if they invited the Republican contenders, they would all show up, and (2) they knew that the debate would be lively; (3) the top two contenders (Cuccinelli and Brownlee) both have charismatic and forceful personalities and are great competitors, and (4) the race was a dead-heat.
This year, we have two strong Republican contenders in the form of Del. Robert Bell and state Sen. Mark Obenshain. (For future reference, I always list candidates in alphabetical order, lest I be accused of showing any favoritism.)
THE 2013 REPUBLICAN CONVENTION
As in 2009, Republicans this year can be proud of the fact that they have two strong candidates. The race has, however, been uneventful, as the two candidates genuinely seem to like each other. In fact, in a recent debate at George Mason University’s School of Law, the two candidates agreed more often than they disagreed, and both talked a great deal about how many pieces of legislation they had co-sponsored.
Boy, that is quite a shift from the Brownlee-Cuccinelli dynamic back in 2009…
In terms of who is the front-runner on the Republican side, it’s impossible to say at this juncture. My own–admittedly informal and very unscientific–poll of folks I consider to be in-the-know from across the Commonwealth shows the two Republican candidates neck and neck, which is to say that half favored Bell and half favored Obenshain. And, I note, all quasi-official results seem to show the same thing. For example, Del. Bell won a straw poll in Hampton Roads by the margin of 56% to 44%, but for a straw poll that is well within the margin of error.
As noted earlier, both Republicans are in the Virginia General Assembly, which means that both have access to the sorts of big donors (and influential people) that come in handy in any election. Of course, because the Republican candidate will be chosen via a convention, the money factor is not as important as it might be if this were a primary.
Again folks, anything goes in a convention like this, absolutely anything.
For the record, I am a firm believer that the role of money in politics is usually overstated, at least in state and local government elections, and that is even more true when the election will take place at a convention instead of a primary. A convention is quite literally anybody’s ballgame. Still, money does come in handy in any political race, and it also provides one way to compare the two candidates to see who is winning.
THE DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY
The Democrats are having a primary this time around (which they usually do, I can’t ever recall them having a convention). On this side of the ball, state Sen. Mark Herring is facing off against former federal prosecutor (and first-time office seeker) Justin Fairfax.
It would be easy to say that, as a state Sen. for the last eight years, Herring has the access to big donors and influential people that any member of the General Assembly enjoys, and he therefore wins in a landslide over a 33-year old political newcomer…but wait, if that is the case, why hasn’t Herring put this one away?
Simply put, Fairfax is still very much in the fight, and this one is anybody’s ball game. All of Herring’s “straw poll” victories have been razor thin, and Fairfax has been able to land a number of heavy-weights on his campaign staff…he also seems to have more charisma than Herring.
If anything, it seems like Herring is becoming frustrated at his inability to lock this one down and start getting ready for the general election…
Plus Fairfax has real, bona fide experience as a federal prosecutor, which as regular readers know is something very important to us here at VaQuiTamLaw.com.
So here is the spiel folks….
As regular readers know, there is a specific reason that this non-partisan, non-political blog covers the Virginia Attorney General race every four years — the individual occupying the Office of the Attorney General is very important to fraud-fighting efforts in the Commonwealth. While the Office of the Attorney General has traditionally been seen as little more than a stepping stone to Governor, it doesen’t necessarily have to be that way. The Attorney General is not term-limited, and he or she could serve as many terms as the Commonwealth’s voters allow.
I have assembled a wish-list of qualities that I would like to see in an Attorney General, and I will be inviting all of the candidates to weigh in whether they are willing to support all or some of this agenda…
So stay tuned folks, the AG race is in full swing, and so is our coverage here at VaQuiTamLaw.com….