Republican Mark Obenshain took a lead of 742 votes out of more than 2.2 million cast in the race for Virginia attorney general and, depending on provisional ballots and a likely recount, could be the Republicans' only statewide winner from Tuesday's elections.
Obenshain received 49.91 percent of the vote compared to 49.88 percent for Democratic opponent Mark Herring, the Virginia State Board of Elections said.
Although provisional ballots remain to be counted and Herring demanded a recount, Republicans who spoke to Newsmax on Wednesday were confident they had a winner in conservative state Sen. Obenshain, and a natural leader for the future.
Obenshain already is considered his party's certain gubernatorial nominee in 2017, and would face someone other than Democratic Gov.-elect Terry McAuliffe, who is limited to one term.
Obenshain's apparent triumph is a continuation of a saga that came to a tragic halt in 1978.
His father, former state GOP Chairman Dick Obenshain, was revered among Virginia conservatives as the father of the state's modern Republican Party. He overcame three opponents to win the Republican nomination for U.S. senate in 1978 and seemed destined for a career in national politics.
But a week after being nominated, Dick Obenshain was killed in an airplane crash while heading to a campaign stop.
Like his father, Mark Obenshain is a conservative across the board, fighting for small government and strongly pro-life, pro-gun, and pro-marriage.
Without wavering in his views, Obenshain managed to overcome well-funded opposition that included $1.3 million in negative TV spots from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's USA PAC for Obenshain's being against closing gun-show loopholes.
In addition, Planned Parenthood launched a $100,000 television broadside, slamming the Republican for his pro-life record.
Herring repeatedly linked Obenshain to his gubernatorial running mate Ken Cuccinelli and controversial lieutenant governor hopeful E.W. Jackson. Herring branded Obenshain and Jackson as "Cuccinelli clones."
Obenshain countered by underscoring his reputation as a "nice guy" and problem solver in the legislature. TV spots featured his daughter Tucker talking about "Dad's" record in the state Senate creating jobs.
The GOP hopeful also talked about his legislation to require mandatory sentences for child rapists, support of the estate-tax repeal, and work on the issues of property rights and eminent domain.
"Mark was always reaching out to those in the party who were not as conservative as he was," centrist Republican Tom Davis, a former Virginia congressman, told Newsmax.
A week before the election, Davis hosted an event at his home for Obenshain that drew more than 150 contributors.
Speaking on behalf of the attorney general hopeful was former Sen. John Warner, who lost and graciously conceded the Senate nomination to the elder Obenshain in 1978, then replaced him as the nominee after his death.
Also on hand, as a "Democrat for Obenshain," was former state Attorney General Andy Miller, who narrowly lost the Senate race to Warner in 1978.
According to a Christopher Newport University poll days before the election, Obenshain trailed Herring among female voters by only 45 percent to 39 percent and was ahead with independent voters by 15 percentage points.
The same poll showed that 19 percent of his voters planned to split their ticket and vote for Democrats Terry McAuliffe for governor and Ralph Northam for lieutenant governor.
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.
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