Sen. Mark Obenshain Candidate for Attorney General.
One election ends and another begins. The Virginia Republican convention is four months away on May 18 and candidates are foraging for delegates. Sen. Mark Obenshain who represents the Shenandoah Valley is one of two candidates for the Republican nomination for attorney general. He was in Roanoke Wednesday evening and spoke to over 50 members of the Roanoke City Republican Committee.
Charlottesville Delegate and state prosecutor Rob Bell is also seeking the nomination for attorney general. Other surrogates were there speaking briefly for their candidate for Lt. Governor – Senator Steve Martin of Chesterfield, entrepreneur Pete Snyder and Jeannemarie Davis Director of the Virginia Liaison office in Washington and wife of former Rep. Tom David, Other candidates vying for the nomination include E.W. Jackson, Scott Lingamfelter, Susan Stimpson and Corey Stewart. Attorney Ken Cuccinelli has no competition for the gubernatorial nomination.
Accompanying Sen. Obenshain Wednesday was his daughter and designated driver Anne Tucker. She was prepared to get her father back to Richmond and the General Assembly 2013 session by evening’s end.
Elected to the Senate in 2003 Obenshain has been an attorney for 25 years and is founder of the Harrisonburg and Charlottesville-based law firm of Lenhart Obenshain PC. “I’ve handled upward of 300 constitutional cases in the course of my career,” he said.
He took the opportunity to admonish the Obama administration saying, “We have a President of the United States that is clearly unrestrained by constitutional and statutory authority.” The disappointment in the outcome of the November elections makes it imperative to elect an attorney general who “has got the guts, the experience and the determination to stand up and fight the federal government’s overreach [that is] eroding our freedom,” he said.
He called the President’s assault on the 2nd amendment by executive order “an outrage.”
Obenshain recounted a time when in 2004 he and then Senator Ken Cuccinelli, Bill Bolling, Steve Martin, Jay O’Brian and Steve Newman balked at then Governor Mark Warner’s tax increase. Other Republicans went along he said. “We literally were not allowed to go to Republican caucus meetings – we were locked out because we refused to go along with raising those taxes.”
He and Ken Cuccinelli were seatmates at the time and both were fighters he said. Obenshain was proud of Cuccinelli’s fight against Obamacare and the Environmental Protection Agency. His hope is that the lawsuit by Liberty University against Obama’s healthcare employer mandate will make it to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“Now they are talking about flying drones over [citizen's property] to make sure that we are covering our manure piles,” said Obenshain. A comment he made after telling a story about the EPA attempting to regulate Mennonite dairy farmers in the Shenandoah Valley.
He expects more fights on right-to-work laws. An example he gave was the $3.5 billion Metro extension in Loudoun County where the unelected Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority that he said was made up of former Governor Tim Kaine liberal appointees solicited bids for “union only” labor. Obenshain claimed the out-of-state union workers would have cost Virginia 20 percent more. “We put a stop to that,” he said.
He has fought against sexual child abuse, advocates for public safety and education reform. School choice he said, “isn’t going to undermine our public schools but will introduce competition and make them stronger.” He introduced a bill that would have done away with teacher tenure.
When talking about the Republican party he said, “We don’t just stand for the ‘R’ – we stand for the principles upon which this party was built … we have given up just about enough of our liberty … it’s about time we start fighting to get some of it back.”
In the Q & A session nullification was brought up. It is still an option he said but “Am I ready to declare the republic dead – absolutely not.” However, he was not ready to let the federal government roll over the states either. “There has to be a middle ground.” He stands with Cuccinelli in finding ways to challenge in court the constitutionality of illegal acts. The next option is to “throw the bums out.” However, he concluded that it is possible that sometime in the future we’d have to exercise the military option.
“Am I going to set up barriers on interstates 66 and 95 – no I’m not there yet,” said Obenshain.
“I think a Governor Cuccinelli and an Attorney General Obenshain can make some mischief and get some great things done … one of the problems we have is top down leadership.”
Later I asked what sets him apart from his opponent Rob Bell. He was confident his private sector experience as CEO of one of the largest law firms in Virginia with 50 employees gives him an advantage. His experience in the General Assembly and handling of large complex legal cases in the private sector was also a plus. He said his accomplishments are across a broad spectrum and was reflective of the responsibilities required of an attorney general.
The one issue he has no interest in arguing is the federal mandate for contraceptive insurance coverage by religious affiliated businesses – an issue Cuccinelli was reported as saying would be worth going to jail for in protest. Obenshain is 100 percent pro-life.