If you are looking for a reason to vote in Virginia on Tuesday, attorney general candidate Mark Obenshain provides it.
While much of the focus on the race has been on Terry McAuliffe and Ken Cuccinelli, Obenshain has quietly built a lead over his Democrat opponent.
That’s not surprising. Obenshain is an active defender of limited government and the rule of law. He has fought for election integrity over the last several legislative sessions, serving as the point person in the Virginia Senate on election legislation. He has even opposed fellow Republican senators who were willing to compromise with Democrats in the Senate to weaken election integrity by allowing convicted felons to vote with no questions asked.
He accomplishes this principled approach to governance with a gentle and courteous demeanor.
But his courtesy should not be mistaken for compromise. He was the Senate sponsor of the law to restore property rights and restrict eminent domain. He was behind the repeal of the estate tax in Virginia and won mandatory life sentences for child rapists (which of course leads to the question of why there weren’t already life sentences for this crime).
Obenshain has been endorsed by the National Federation of Independent Businesses, an endorsement more valuable than those from chambers of commerce, as far as I am concerned. The NFIB tends to reflect main street America in ways chambers of commerce no longer do.
Obenshain is trouncing his opponent in raising campaign funds.
Best of all, he intends to do what few lawyers do — to clip the wings of outside lawyers retained by the attorney general’s office. He wants to establish caps on fees charged by outside law firms retained by the attorney general’s office. The office sometimes retains outside counsel for special matters such as redistricting or larger litigation. In the past, distribution of this work was not transparent, and often went to a few larger and predictably connected firms. Obenshain wants to revolutionize the process, putting out these contracts to competitive and open bid.
Once again, one wonders why it wasn’t always done that way.
Republicans on Tuesday will be saddled by a governor embroiled in ethical controversy. In a year when the GOP faces a headwind, Mark Obenshain provides Virginians a reason to turn out Tuesday.