Va. senator already considering run for AG's office

Jessica M. Karmasek Dec. 5, 2011, 11:00am

Mark Obenshain


RICHMOND, Va. (Legal Newsline) - Republican state Sen. Mark Obenshain said Friday he is thinking about running for Virginia's Attorney General's Office.

In an email to his so-called "grassroots supporters," Obenshain said he is committed to "limited government, low taxes and individual liberty."

His decision to consider a bid for the post follows current Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's announcement last week that he would run for governor in 2013.

"Ken is a principled and effective attorney general, earning the admiration of friends and foes alike, and he sets a high standard for others to follow," Obenshain wrote supporters.

"Virginia will need continued conservative leadership in that office, and that is why I am exploring a bid for attorney general in 2013."

Obenshain was elected to the state Senate in 2003. He represents the 26th District, which includes the city of Harrisonburg and the counties of Shenandoah, Page, Warren, Rappahannock and part of Rockingham County.

He currently serves on four committees: Courts of Justice; Local Government; Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources; and Privileges and Elections. He also serves as a Republican whip.

Obenshain, a graduate of Virginia Tech and Washington and Lee University's law school, is one of the founders of the Harrisonburg and Charlottesville-based law firm Lenhart Obenshain PC. He has practiced law in Harrisonburg and central Virginia for 23 years.

Obenshain also is the son of former Virginia Republican Committee Chairman Richard D. Obenshain, who ran for Congress in 1964, state attorney general in 1969 and U.S. Senate in 1978.

Richard Obenshain won the GOP nomination in the 1978 contest. However, while returning home from a campaign trip, he died in a plane crash near his home in Chesterfield County. The GOP nominated John Warner, the eventual winner, to succeed him.

But not all Republicans are as enthused as Obenshain that Cuccinelli is running for governor.

On Thursday, after Cuccinelli announced his bid for office, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling in a statement accused the attorney general of putting "his own personal ambition ahead of the best interests of the commonwealth and the Republican Party."

Cuccinelli will be facing Bolling in the state's gubernatorial primary. Bolling serves under current Gov. Bob McDonnell, who was Cuccinelli's predecessor as attorney general.

According to The Washington Times, Bolling held off making comments about the race at an annual GOP retreat Saturday.

"What happens in 2012, the (possible) election of a Republican U.S. senator in Virginia and a Republican president, is of far more importance to the future of the country than what happens to Bill Bolling or Ken Cuccinelli in 2013," he told the crowd, the Times reported.

Cuccinelli did not attend the event.

He, along with Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, co-hosted a GOP presidential candidate forum on Fox News' Huckabee with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee Saturday.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at

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