Attorney General Declares ‘dreamers’ Eligible for In-State Tuition

Mark R. Herring

Mark R. Herring

Last week, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring (D) announced that some immigrants living in the US illegally who were brought to the state as children can qualify for in-state tuition rates under existing law.

Herring made the announcement at Northern Virginia Community College’s Alexandria campus to a room of Latino students, immigration activists and education officials.

“We should welcome these smart, talented, hard-working young people into our economy and society rather than putting a stop sign at the end of 12th grade,” Herring said.

Herring’s move builds on Obama’s decision to allow thousands of immigrants to remain in the country. Virginia students who are lawfully in the country qualify for in-state tuition rates under Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Herring’s decision instantly made college more affordable for more than 8,000 young immigrants. For affected students, securing in-state tuition rates would remove a substantial financial burden for many families. At the University of Virgnia, tuition for in-state resident students is $12,998. Out-of-state costs more than triple the in-state costs, coming in at $42,184.

More details on Herring’s ‘dreamers’ plan is available at the Washington Post.

Obenshain Denies Decision to Involve General Assembly in Attorney General Race

Mark D. Obenshain (R) dismissed the idea that he has already decided to ask the General Assembly to step into the attorney general race, according to The Washington Post.

Obenshain had previously raised the possibility of asking the General Assembly to step in after next week’s recount. However, contesting the election through the General Assembly would be a step that has never been taken in a statewide race in modern Virginia history.

The Washington Post also reports that Obenshain is unlikely to try unless his campaign can make a case of huge irregularities in the election process. The option would be even less appealing for Democrat Mark Herring, given the Republican dominance in the legislature.

Mark Herring Wins Attorney General Race, Officially

As of yesterday afternoon, Democrat Mark Herring came out on top in the extremely close and dramatic attorney general race. Out of 2.2 million votes cast, Herring won by only a mere 165 votes over Republican Mark Obenshain.

Obenshain has made no moves towards filing for a recount yet, but we will not be surprised if that’s what he decides to do. According to the Augusta Free Press, this is the closest political race in Virginia’s history, making it highly unlikely that Obenshain will take the loss without a fight.

Obenshain commented, “Margins this small are why Virginia law provides a process for a recount. However, a decision to request a recount, even in this historically close election, is not one to be made lightly. Virginia law allows 10 days to request a recount. We will make further announcements regarding a recount well within that time, in order to ensure the closure and confidence in the results that Virginians deserve.”

He has 10 days to file for a recount before he would have to take the loss to Herring. This has been a very hectic political season for Virginia, to say the least.

Will Ken Cuccinelli Help Fund Recount?

The votes have finally been counted in the attorney general race, and there are already talks about a recount in the near future. Late Tuesday night, Democrat Mark Herring pulled ahead of Republican Mark Obenshain and the race was declared in his favor. The Virginia State Board of Elections officially released the polls and out of 2.2 million votes cast, Herring won by only 164.

The State Board of Elections will certify the votes on Nov. 25th and then a recount can be put into place if one of the candidates feels it’s necessary. It may be a little early for Obenshain to talk officially about a recount, but he has mentioned that fellow Republican and former Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, will reach out to supporters and help him fund the recount, if it’s something he decides to go ahead with. Cuccinelli’s office advises and counsels the Election Board and Democrats are already raising questions about the conflict of interest.

State Senator Donald McEachin (D-Henrico) has come forward and in an article published by Huffington Post said, “Attorney General Cuccinelli needs to take his responsibilities seriously in this process and refrain from his overt and extreme partisanship.”

Candidates must pay for a recount, if a recount is requested, when the election outcome was between 0.5 and 1 percent. Mark Obenshain will continue to ask for donations and use Ken Cuccinelli’s help to his advantage. If the recount happens and the results are the same as they are now, Democrats will hold all five of Virginia’s offices come January.

Is this the End for Ken Cuccinelli?

According to the Daily Kos, the final polls seem to show Republican Ken Cuccinelli falling below Democrat Terry McAuliffe, with a score of 51-39. Among women, McAuliffe leads 58-34 and this could greatly be attributed to Cuccinelli’s social conservatism and his stances on issues that significantly affect women.

Terry McAuliffe has raised a more compelling amount of money with $1.6 million left on hand, while Cuccinelli only has $604,000. By having more money, McAuliffe and his campaign team have been able to create more TV advertisements attacking his opponent, which could be a huge factor as to why the numbers have jumped so much in his favor.

It’s been nine years since the governor of Virginia has been from the same party of the President. If McAuliffe wins this race, like it’s looking, the long streak will end. McAuliffe shouldn’t feel too good though because in one of the questions in the poll it asks, “Is your vote for McAuliffe or more against Cuccinelli?” and 64% said it’s against Cuccinelli, which means McAuliffe still might not be as liked as he thinks.

In the Lt. Governor’s race, it also looks like the Democrats are going to win, with Ralph Northam ahead of E.W. Jackson with a score of 52-39. In the attorney general race, looking to take over for Ken Cuccinelli, Mark Herring (D) is also leading Mark Obenshain 49-46 as of Monday’s recent polls.

It looks like the Democrats are going to take over in every race and we’ll see if this final week can change anything for the Republicans.

Democrats Continue to Release Television Ads

On Tuesday morning, the Democrats running for lieutenant governor and attorney general both released more TV ads to help themselves in attempts to hopefully give them a final push in the last two weeks of their election races.

Senator Ralph Northam (D), who is running for lieutenant governor against Republican minister E.W. Jackson, released an ad that highlighted Northam’s personal side  and showed some of his accomplishments in the military and as a pediatric neurologist.

In the ad he says, “I have treated wounded soldiers and children with brain injuries. I believe in service, especially to those who have fought for our freedom, and to those who are our future.”

Jackson and his campaign team declined to comment about the ad, but The Washington Post quotes a fundraising letter from the minister: “Make no mistake my friends, electing Ralph Northam would be a disaster for Virginia.”

In a separate race to succeed Ken Cuccinelli as attorney general, Democratic nominee, state Senator Mark Herring, released an ad that seemed to directly target his opponent, Sen. Mark D. Obenshain (R).

In the ad, Herring highlights all of the times Obenshain has made comments Herring thinks will be bad for Virginia. Herring’s ad also directly ties him to Ken Cuccinelli, who is the Republican nominee running for governor. He says, “Obenshain and Cuccinelli: When you focus on their record it’s clear they’re wrong for Virginia.”

In response, Paul Logan, Obenshain’s spokesman, was quoted in that same Washington Post article as saying, “Mark Herring is engaged in the same negative politics as usual that has him down in the polls, behind in fundraising, and without a positive reason for voters to support him.”

The governor’s race is not the only election race in Virginia that is heating up with less than two weeks to go. Will these ads by Ralph Northam and Mark Herring hurt their chances at winning or will it secure their spot?

The Future of Virginia Law Rests in Voters’ Hands

The race for attorney general may not be highlighted as much as the Virginia governor’s race; however, this race is just as important as the governor’s race and can make changes for the state of Virginia based on the choice made on Election Day.
Election Day outcomes will show voters’ decisions on who will serve as the commonwealth’s top lawyer, overseeing a public law firm with 400-employees. All of these employees review, interpret and defend laws in Virginia.  
While in the Senate, Mark Obenshain (R) and Mark Herring (D) have had separate views on many topics, including the Affordable Care Act and other hotly contested issues in Virginia.
According to the Washington Post, Obenshain has opposed the new federal health-care law and environmental regulations on coal and storm water, as well as sponsored legislation to strengthen property rights and promote school choice. In his effort to become top lawyer, he has stressed his legislative record related to criminal law, including sponsorship of bills that increased penalties for repeat drug offenders and sexual predators.
“We’ve got to stand up and push back when the federal government steps over the line,” Obenshain said at an October debate. “And I will do that.”
On the other side, Obenshain’s opponent Herring is in support of the Affordable Care Act.
In 2012, when the Affordable Care Act was upheld by the Supreme Court, Herring made the following statement: “While this isn’t a perfect plan, I applaud Chief Justice Roberts and the Supreme Court for affirming the constitutionality of President Obama’s signature legislative achievement: healthcare reform. As a member of Virginia’s Health Reform Initiative, and a member of the Senate Commerce and Labor Subcommittee on Health Exchanges, I look forward to working with the Governor, the Attorney General and my colleagues in the General Assembly to implement this law in the best possible way so that our citizens will receive the maximum benefit of healthcare reform.”
Herring has also been critical of Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli, a candidate who is almost Obenshain’s political twin and whose footsteps Obenshain is expected to follow.
“Time and again, [Cuccinelli] has bent and twisted the law and misused and abused the power of the office in order to advance personal ambition and an extreme ideological agenda,” Herring said of Cuccinelli in the October debate. “Senator Obenshain would be a continuation of what we’ve got.”
Gay marriage and the Affordable Care Act aside, here’s a infographic outlining where these two candidates stand on a few other hot issues.
For a full breakdown of Senator Obenshain’s voting and record and stances on issues, check out this page at, a non-partisan educational organization designed to help voters choose candidates smartly. For more information on Senator Herring’s voting and record and stances, check out his page at Vote Smart.
Whatever the issue may be, the race is far from over and the future of Virginia law is in voters’ hands.