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Monday, December 2, 2013

Herring Campaign Manager Claims Gun Control Led To Victory That is Still in Question

State Senator Mark Herring's campaign manager, Kevin O’Holleran, had this Op/Ed in yesterday's Washington Post, claiming that gun control led to his 164 vote victory over State Senator Mark Obenshain in Virginia's AG race. Setting aside for the moment the votes are headed for a recount, let's take a look at his claim.
Like much conventional wisdom, this was wrong — and we not only ignored this advice but did the opposite. There were stark differences between Herring and his Republican opponent, Sen. Mark D. Obenshain (R-Harrisonburg), on gun safety. Obenshain opposed comprehensive background checks and opposed closing the gun-show loophole. He opposed former governor Douglas Wilder’s landmark “one-gun-a-month” legislation. Obenshain also made a habit of voting for such irresponsible proposals as allowing guns in bars and restaurants where alcohol is served.
While O'Holleran made a short reference to the campaign's focus on the so-called "women's health" meme that Democrats used during the 2013 campaign, he gives credit for his candidate's victory the focus on gun control, and even mentions the late entry of Bloomberg's gun ban group into the race. But, Bloomberg did not focus solely on gun control, choosing instead to also jump on the social issues band wagon. Also, as O'Holleran focuses his thesis on the vote totals on northern Virginia, Bloomberg focused his ads on the region as did the Mark Kelly-Gabby Giffords group Americans for Responsible Solutions. Even with the large vote totals he ran up in Northern Virginia, the final margin is a razor thin 164 votes that is headed to a recount. So, while gun control likely polls well in Northern Virginia, even with increasing the vote total by 124,000 over the total for the AG in 2009, it was barely enough to pull him across the finish line (and still may not depending on what happens in the recount). It's likley the constant barage of negative ads tying Obenshain to Cuccinelli on social issues had more to do with the final outcome than gun control.

And, even if he ends up winning, 164 votes does not make a mandate for anything, including gun control.

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