Democratic Attorney General Mark R. Herring won a second term on Tuesday, prevailing over a well-financed challenge from GOP newcomer John Adams as Virginia Democrats swept races in what many saw as a backlash against President Trump.
At a Democratic victory party at George Mason University in Fairfax County, Herring said Tuesday's results sent a message that will be heard around the world and "across the river by the man in the White House."
"We have rejected the politics of fear and division in favor of a commonwealth that strives for justice, equality and opportunity for all Virginians,” Herring said, adding that he's "just getting warmed up."
Adams, at a stunned GOP party at a Hilton hotel in the Short Pump area of Henrico County, thanked Republicans for giving a first-time candidate a chance to be the party nominee and congratulated Herring.
Herring raised $8.8 million for his re-election, according to the Virginia Public Access Project. Adams matched that, with most of his money coming from the Republican Attorneys General Association, which is funded by corporations and associations.
Both sides bombarded the other with negative TV and mail.
Herring campaigned on his efforts to eliminate a backlog in testing of rape kits, reducing sexual and domestic violence, fighting opioid addiction and support for gun control.
Adams, of Chesterfield County is a white-collar defense attorney at the firm McGuireWoods and a former federal prosecutor. He said Herring had been too political in office and he was especially critical of Herring for not defending the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, which has been overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Adams said he would defend any Virginia law, regardless of his personal beliefs. Herring has said there are rare instances in which an attorney general should not defend a law, and the same-sex marriage ban was one of them because it unconstitutionally denied people the right to marry. As a state senator, Herring opposed legal same-sex marriage.
Herring, born in Johnson City, Tenn., grew up in Loudoun County, where he was a lawyer and county supervisor before become a state senator and then attorney general.
Most modern Virginia attorneys general resign before their terms end to run for governor. Herring, faced with a potential primary race with fellow Democrat Ralph Northam - his deskmate in the state Senate - had been considered a possible candidate for governor this year. But opted to run for re-election as attorney general.
Herring's squeaker election over the GOP's Mark Obenshain in 2013 made him the first Democrat to hold the office since 1994. Herring, Northam and Lieutenant Governor candidate Justin Fairfax won in a sweep for Democrats on statewide races Tuesday.