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The Republican vows to take a less divisive approach than his predecessor, Ken Cuccinelli.
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Virginians can feel confident this year knowing that the two candidates for attorney general are both able and decent men. Voters may wish to linger over this decision and relish it because that feeling will fade as they proceed through the ballot.
The commonwealth has long prided itself in a balanced state government, with capable leadership from both parties. With that goal in mind, we endorse Republican Mark Obenshain for attorney general.
Obenshain and Democratic candidate Mark Herring are both sitting state senators. Obenshain has cut a higher profile in that chamber than his opponent, although the causes the Republican has chosen to champion have often been disappointing.
He supported legislation requiring women to have ultrasound procedures before obtaining an abortion and co-sponsored failed legislation that would have granted a “right to enjoyment of life” at fertilization. He also opposed Gov. Bob McDonnell’s transportation funding legislation despite its obvious economic value for the state.
Obenshain vows to embrace a broader agenda if elected. He favors the creation of independent commissions to oversee ethics rules and to draw legislative and congressional districts. He also pledges to look for alternatives to incarceration for drug users, ones that put a greater focus on treatment, particularly for juveniles.
Most important, Obenshain promises to eschew the role of fire-breathing crusader and cable TV darling, distancing himself from Ken Cuccinelli’s disruptive shenanigans. Obenshain expressed reservations about Cuccinelli’s decision to drag the University of Virginia into court in his effort to seize the emails of a prominent climate change researcher.
“There would be a very high bar for me to go and request investigations or subpoenas with respect to peer-reviewed research,” Obenshain said in an interview, adding that he would be “extremely reluctant to cross that line.”
Given his reserved, mild-mannered personality, we are comfortable concluding that Obenshain would take a less flamboyant, more workmanlike approach to the office, in contrast to Cuccinelli. If Obenshain is elected, he must also show an ability to grow past his personal limitations. We acknowledge that his religious beliefs are sincere, but as a statewide official he must represent the commonwealth, not a sectarian segment of the population.
As attorney general, Obenshain would no longer have the excuse that he is merely following the pack. He must make his own path, one that will determine whether he is viewed as a viable candidate for future promotions. He must demonstrate that he is not only fit to hold the office of attorney general, but a good fit for a middle-of-the-road Virginia.
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