Yesterday, the RNLA, in conjunction with the Mason Law Republicans, hosted a debate between the candidates for Attorney General of Virginia – Virginia General Assembly Delegate Rob Bell and Virginia Senator Mark Obenshain at the George Mason University School of Law. The moderator was former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore. The Republican primary will be held in May, and the winner will face off against Democrat Mark Herring in the fall.
At the backdrop of the debate was the recognition by all parties of the immense importance of the office of Virginia attorney general. Governor Gilmore, a former Virginia attorney general himself, noted that the office of Virginia attorney general is “the highest honor you can give a lawyer in this state.” Senator Obenshain said that now “the office of attorney general of Virginia is never more important” and recognized that state attorneys general like Ken Cuccinelli have stood up to the federal government on matters like Obamacare and EPA regulatory overreach. Delegate Bell noted that President Obama will be in office during most of the tenure of the attorney general, making defense of constitutional rights against federal encroachment. Bell said, “we have a moral obligation to take the Constitution back.”
Both Bell and Obenshain work in the state legislature and have practiced law for many years. As a state prosecutor for five years, Bell had over 2,400 cases. Bell was elected to the Virginia General Assembly in 2002. Obenshain founded the Harrisonburg and Charlottesville-based law firm of Lenhart Obenshain PC. and practiced law for twenty-five years. Obenshain was elected to the Senate of Virginia in 2003. Chris Marston, chair of the Virginia chapter of the RNLA, identified a job both candidates have had – unit chair of their local Republican party.