Saturday, November 16, 2013

Why Mark Obenshain won't try to steal the AG election

Right now there are some Democratic bloggers kicking around a "doomsday" scenario in which Republican Attorney candidate Mark Obenshain will try to steal the election by "contesting" the outcome of the election--a very narrow win for Democrat Mark Herring--and ask the Republican Majority in the General Assembly to use an obscure part of the Virginia Code (§ 24.2-804. Contest of elections of Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Attorney General.) to overturn Herring's narrow 164 vote win.

I'm not an election law expert, but common sense tells you that if the Republican majority in the General Assembly can overturn a 164 vote win, then they could also just choose to ignore a 56,494 vote margin race--McAuliffe over Cuccinelli. Or why not just ignore a 232,846 vote margin race, like Northam's win over Jackson?

Why shouldn't Cuccinelli and Jackson contest their races' outcomes and just have the Republican majority in the General Assembly declare them the winner?

In the absence of a legitimate issue other than the fact that Herring won by only 164 votes, the Republicans would be incredibly foolish to attempt this. It would make them look like sore losers and they would lose in federal court after a few months of expensive litigation. It would cost the state millions, disrupt the operation of the state government, and completely discredit the Republican Party of Virginia. It would also make them look bad during the special elections to fill the winners' seats.

If Obenshain has the General Assembly declare him the winner, he will have to resign his state senate seat in order to become (temporarily) Attorney General, then when he lost in federal court, he'd also be out of his senate seat, and possibly done in Virginia politics.

Obenshain's other options are much better. If he he asks for a recount, he might yet pull out a win--164 votes is awfully close and they might find a transcription error somewhere. If he loses the recount, Obenshain should then gracefully concede. If he does so, he looks like a graceful team player who accepts the voters' decision. He goes back to the state senate, where, I would argue, he becomes the favorite for the GOP's 2017 Governor's nomination. That's not a bad place for the 51 year old Obenshain to be. He's got plenty of time.

Why? well for starters, alone of the Republican candidates, Obenshain ran a competent campaign and almost won. He would also have the advantage of still being in office and having the platform that provides.

Best case scenario for Obenshain right now is that he pulls out a squeaker of a win during the recount as the result of newly discovered transcription errors. Worst case, if he refuses to carry out the "contest" doomsday scenario, he becomes de facto leader of the Republican Party of Virginia and likely favorite for their 2017 gubernatorial nomination. Worst case if he attempts to steal the election in the General Assembly? Even if the rest of the Republicans in the General Assembly went along with him--and they'd be foolish to do so, he'd likely lose in federal court and would have given up his senate seat in the process. He'd be out in the cold with no elective office and no platform for future campaigns, just like Ken Cuccinelli.

Cuccinelli bears the stigma of having run an incompetent race and--along with E.W. Jackson--of dragging Obenshain down. If Cuccinelli had run a competent campaign and had someone like Pete Snyder been the Lieutenant General nominee, then Obenshain almost certainly would have won the Attorney General's election.

If the Republican Party of Virginia is foolish enough to nominate Ken Cuccinelli to run against Mark Warner U.S. Senate, Warner will crush Cuccinelli, effectively ending his active political career as a two-time statewide loser. Ken Cuccinelli is really out of good options politically, though he no doubt has a lucrative future as a lobbyist.

Democrats need to stop agonizing about far-fetched scenarios that are unlikely to occur. We need to be focused on the recount, as it would only take the swing of a tiny handful of votes to deliver the election to Mark Obenshain. The smart move for Obenshain and his advisors is to get the best and most accurate recount they can--maybe they can eke out a win, but if he loses, Obenshain should gracefully concede. The restrained way Obenshain ran his campaign suggests that he will do just that, taking the truly conservative course of respecting the voters and Virginia tradition rather than trying some outlandish and untried plan to steal the election in the General Assembly.

1 comment:

ConsDemo said...

If the Republican Party of Virginia is foolish enough to nominate Ken Cuccinelli to run against Mark Warner U.S. Senate, Warner will crush Cuccinelli, effectively ending his active political career as a two-time statewide loser.

Hopefully, Cuccinelli's career is already over.