Free Lance-Star reporter Chelyen Davis covers Virginia government.
Obenshain officially in for AG
State Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Harrisonburg, officially kicked off his campaign for 2013′s attorney general race on Tuesday.
In a telephone interview, Obenshain said that — like current Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli — he would challenge federal laws and regulations that overstep constitutional authority or infringe on state laws and personal freedoms.
“Particularly with the reelection of the president … it raises the level of the attention” to standing up for Virginia and its laws, Obenshain said. “We have an administration that is now entering its second term and has exhibited a willingness to fairly aggressively use the power of the executive order and regulatory authority.”
Obenshain spoke specifically of the federal health care law, environmental regulations — both of which Cuccinelli has challenged in court — and Virginia’s right-to-work laws.
“Particularly on health care and the EPA, those are fights that have been begun that need to be finished,” Obenshain said. “And I want to participate in these fights.”
Obenshain has been a state senator since 2004, and said his legislative experience along with experience running large law firms make him suited to be attorney general.
“I have worked hard in a number of areas, including public safety, education reform, economic freedom, right to work,” Obenshain said. “That breadth is something that I consider a strength, and it has given me intensive exposure to a significant range of our state government operations.”
In the wake of the national elections earlier this month, some Republicans said the party needed to modernize its focus and its message to appeal to more diverse demographics.
Asked about that, Obenshain said he plans to run as he has in the past, but he also said he doesn’t view conservatism as something that needs fixing.
‘I don’t think there is anything wrong with being a conservative,” he said. “And those who suggest we need to somehow become more like the Washington Democrats are just fundamentally wrong. I think Virginia values cross those partisan political lines.”
He and Del. Rob Bell, R-Albemarle, are currently the only two candidates for the Republican nomination for the job. Both have been running for months; the party will choose its nominees next May at a convention.