Virginia candidates differ on role of state attorney general

FAIRFAX, Va. – Candidates for attorney general of Virginia agree that public safety is their top priority. But in separate interviews with WTOP, Republican Mark Obenshain and Democrat Mark Herring said they have a different view of the role of the attorney general.

The race for attorney general remains the tightest of the three top statewide races in next month’s elections.

The latest poll from Christopher Newport University, released Tuesday, finds the race to be a dead heat. Obenshain holds a 44 percent to 43 percent lead over Herring. The lead is well within the poll’s margin of error.

Obenshain said on substance, he will be similar to Ken Cuccinelli, the current attorney general who is running for governor.

“I’m going to bring my own style to the office,” Obenshain said.

“I’m going to stand up for a business environment, protect our right to work laws,” he said.

Obenshain said he will fight the federal government like Cuccinelli did, when he believes the federal government steps over the lines.

Herring, though, has a different approach.

“I want to take the politics out of the office and put the law in Virginia first,” Herring said.

“For the last four years, under Ken Cuccinelli, there has been there way too much politics, not enough problem solving,” Herring said.

Herring contends Obenshain would continue what Cuccinelli has done, getting involved with controversial issues such as lawsuits involve global warming and the Affordable Health Care Act.

One of the new responsibilities of the Attorney General is consumer protection, with that office moving over from the Department of Agriculture to the attorney general’s office four years ago.

The men differ on that role as well.

“Our current attorney general really has not done very much on consumer protection at all. That’s one area I want to change,” said Herring.

“I see it as an opportunity to help Virginians, so that they know that their lawyer will be on their side, and I will,” he said.

But Obenshain said he wants a balanced approach.

“Some of the states, in which the attorney generals have an adversarial position to business, helps contributes to making those states not a very attractive location for business,” Obenshain said.

Obenshain said he would use his office to advocate for lower tolls on both the Dulles Toll Road and the privately owned Dulles Greenway, which has toll rate hearings before the State Corporation Commission.

Obenshain said his priority issues include fighting human trafficking and protecting senior citizens.

Herring said restoring ethics to the office, defending and protecting civil rights are among his priorities.

“If I am elected attorney general, the women of Virginia will know that I will fight to protect their right to privacy and their right to make their own private health care decisions” said Herring.

Both Herring and Obenshain are currently members of the state Senate.

The election is on Nov. 5.

Follow @WTOP on Twitter.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up