RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC/WAVY) — Virginia voters cast their ballots and waited through Tuesday night for results in the Attorney General’s race. As of the early hours of Wednesday, the race had not been called.
Democrat and Incumbent Attorney General Mark Herring and current House of Delegates Member Republican Jason Miyares ran a tight race with close polling right before the election and nail-biting results tallying up on election night.
Miyares declared himself the victor early on Wednesday morning but the Associated Press has not called the race yet.
Wednesday afternoon, Herring released a statement conceding to Miyares.
“From the bottom of my heart, I thank the people of Virginia for trusting me to serve as your attorney general for the last eight years.
We showed Virginians a new vision for what this office could be, and what a difference an attorney general can make in their lives, and we have forever changed what Virginians will expect and demand from their attorney general.
This afternoon I called Jason Miyares to congratulate him on his victory and assure him that my team and I will do all we can to ensure a smooth and effective transition. He will be accepting a role and leading an office that has tremendous capacity for good in the lives of Virginians.
Over the last eight years, we have made Virginia a more just, fair, safe, and prosperous place for all. We passed new gun safety laws, expanded access to healthcare, extended rights and protections to LGBTQ Virginians, protected a woman’s right to choose, expanded voting rights, and took bold steps to combat climate change.
We cracked down on predatory lending, fought the opioid crisis, protected the rights of immigrants and new Americans, and eliminated Virginia’s rape kit backlog.
These are victories that once seemed unimaginable, but now, these historic achievements will be the benchmark that Virginians expect from their attorney general.
I will never forget the families who told me through tears what our fight for marriage equality meant to them. Or the survivors who said that eliminating the rape kit backlog finally made them feel like their Commonwealth cared. Or the DREAMer who can finally pursue their dreams here in their home state. Or the everyday Virginians who got money put back in their pocket because of the work we did on their behalf.
We have had the honor of writing an amazing chapter in the history of our state, and for that, I will always be grateful.”Mark Herring
Heading into election day, Miyares had raised $6.76 million toward his campaign and Herring had $7.78 million. Read a full breakdown of campaign fundraising here.
The candidates touted stark ideological divides as well as different visions for the Office of Attorney General. Herring viewed the position as Virginia’s “top lawyer” while Miyares believed the attorney general should act as the state’s “top cop.”
WAVY’s sister station 8News interviewed both candidates and asked each, “If elected what would you tackle first?”
Herring said, “We’ve got to do more to stop gun violence. We have a gun violence problem in this county and in our Commonwealth. We’ve finally begun to get some stronger gun safety laws like expanded background checks, a red flag law, one gun a month–but there’s more that we can do.”
Miyares responded saying, “I’m going to investigate this parole board and the fact that they let out cop killers, murderers and rapists out early–sometimes with decades on their sentence and no one til this day has been fired or held accountable.”
Data from Christopher Newport University’s Wason Center for Civic Leadership released the week before the election showed Herring carrying 48% of voters, Miyares with 47% of voters supporting him and 5% of voters were undecided. The attorney general’s race had the highest percentage of undecided voters when compared to the races for governor and lieutenant governor.
Ahead of Herring conceding Wednesday, 8News Political Analyst Rich Meagher discussed the possibility of this particular race splitting the ticket. He said that there is a chance that the governor and lieutenant governor could both end up being Democrats but the attorney general’s race could finish in Miyares’ favor, but he said he didn’t find that likely.
“The issue here is that Jason Miyares is not the incumbent, Mark Herring is. Incumbents are very hard to dislodge they have all the advantages and Miyares had to make a case for why to fire Mark Herring,” Meagher said.
He said that if Republicans saw a higher turnout than Democrats that could seal a win for Miyares but otherwise it was more likely for Herring’s incumbency to work in his favor.
WAVY News 10’s Michelle Wolf was in Virginia Beach at the Westin at Town Center where Republicans from across the region watched election results pour in. Hundreds of people gathered in the Monarch Ballroom and cheered as Miyares held the lead. He later addressed his supporters and thanked everyone who helped him during his campaign.
Michelle Wolf spoke with Miyares just before polls closed Tuesday. You can watch that interview here:
Herring monitored the election results from Tyson’s Corner with his Democratic colleagues, including governor candidate Terry McAuliffe and lieutenant governor candidate Hayla Ayala.