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October 29, 2013 3:13 PM Bloomberg Aims Down-Ballot in Virginia

By Ed Kilgore

While it’s generally assumed that Republican gubernatorial nominee Ken Cuccinelli and Lt. Gov. nominee E. W. Jackson will go down to defeat a week from today in Virginia, the forecast is not so clear for the third of the three constitutional offices on the ballot, the Attorney General. Polls show the two state senators running for that gig, Democrat Mark Herring and Republican Mark Obenshain, in a very close race. Indeed, the national Republican State Leadership Committee has donated well over two million smackers to Obenshain’s campaign in hopes of avoiding a GOP shutout.

But now Herring is getting some last-minute help in the Washington media market from Mike Bloomberg’s Independence USA Super-PAC, which is running a million dollars worth of attack ads focused not just on Obenshain’s record on guns, but also on abortion and contraception, issues closely identified with the unpopular Cooch, against whom the group had run earlier ads. The NRA is reportedly retaliating with a half-mil in ads attacking Herring.

The stakes in this contest are higher than you might think. Five of the last six Republican gubernatorial nominees have been Attorneys General (an office they’ve held continuously for the last twenty years). More intangibly, Obenshain is the son of the man generally credited for engineering the conservative takeover of the Virginia GOP, Richard Obenshain, who died in a plane crash shortly after winning a U.S. Senate nomination (ultimately obtained by John Warner). Obenshain the Younger is well-positioned for a future gubernatorial or Senate run if he becomes the Commonwealth’s highest-ranking elected official on November 5.

UPDATE: Obenshain’s running into a stiff wind, all right. As Greg Sargent notes today from WaPo polling data in Virginia, the GOP’s unfavorable rating has risen to 69% among both independents and college-educated white voters.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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