Republican Mark D. Obenshain on Wednesday conceded the Virginia attorney general’s race to Democrat Mark R. Herring, putting an end to one of the closet elections in the state’s history.
As preliminary recount results showed Mr. Herring’s lead growing, Mr. Obenshain told reporters in Richmond that even without an official sign-off from the state, “it’s become apparent our campaign is going to come up a few votes short.
“I called [Mr. Herring] earlier today to offer my congratulations on his victory,” he said.
Mr. Herring’s win means Democrats swept the top three statewide elected offices in the November election. Terry McAuliffe defeated Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II in the governor’s race, and Ralph S. Northam bested E.W. Jackson in the contest for lieutenant governor.
Mr. Obenshain’s concession comes more than a month after an initial count established a slim 165-vote margin between the candidates.
Mr. Obenshain called for a statewide recount in late November, something he was entitled to because the margin of victory was less than 1 percent of the total 2.2 million votes cast on Election Day.
“This margin may not turn out to be the slimmest in history. We’ve picked up a number of votes along the way here — but I still have folks calling me ‘Landslide Herring,’ ” Mr. Herring said. “This was an extraordinarily close election. I want to reassure everyone that I will wake up every day to fight for justice, equality and opportunity for all Virginians.”
William Hurd, attorney for Mr. Obenshain’s campaign, said Wednesday that both campaigns were withdrawing any remaining challenges concerning ballots because it was the “most expeditious way to proceed.”
“It was a hard-fought campaign,” Mr. Hurd said, adding that he anticipated the board would finish retabulating the votes by Wednesday night or Thursday and “enter the order certifying Mark Herring as the winner.”
“We needed to find more votes than we did,” Mr. Hurd said. “When the recount started we knew there would be more votes for Mark Obenshain and more votes for Mark Herring. We didn’t know which way it would shake out. Now we do.”