RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Democratic incumbent Mark Herring called his Republican challenger Jason Miyares on Wednesday afternoon to concede the attorney general’s race.
Miyares’ win ensures a Republican sweep in Virginia’s three statewide elections this year and denies Herring’s quest for a third term. With his victory, Miyares becomes the first Latino to be elected as Virginia’s attorney general.
Herring shared the details of his call to Miyares in a statement on Wednesday.
“This afternoon I called Jason Miyares to congratulate him on his victory and assure him that my team and I will do all we can to ensure a smooth and effective transition,” Herring said. “He will be accepting a role and leading an office that has tremendous capacity for good in the lives of Virginians.”
Del. Miyares (R-Virginia Beach) has credited his mother, who fled communist Cuba and became a U.S. citizen, throughout his campaign for instilling “a passionate love of the freedom and democracy of America.” A former assistant commonwealth’s attorney in Virginia Beach, Miyares became the first Cuban American to be elected to the Virginia General Assembly when he won the vacant Virginia Beach House seat in 2015.
“Fifty-six years ago, my mother fled Cuba – with nothing but a dream – a dream for a better life for her family,” Miyares said in a statement before the race was called. “Now I stand here today – elected to be the Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Virginia – the first-ever son of an immigrant and the first Latino ever to be elected statewide in the Commonwealth’s history.”
The ideological divide between Herring and Miyares was evident this election season, with both candidates sharing opposing views on health care, crime and even the role of Virginia’s attorney general.
In a campaign video, Miyares vows to protect “the rule of law” and condemns efforts to eliminate qualified immunity for law enforcement and reallocate funding away from police departments. On the campaign trail, through political ads and in debates, Miyares has tried to tie Herring to an increase in crime rates and the ongoing parole board scandal.
Last year, the state’s watchdog agency found the Virginia Parole Board violated the law and did not follow protocol when granting the release of certain inmates, specifically failing to notify local prosecutors and victims’ families. The attorney general does not have authority over the parole board and its decisions, a fact Herring has repeated, but the AG’s office does represent the parole board.
“On Day one, we’ll work toward a safe and secure Virginia and ending the criminal first, victim last mindset,” Miyares added. “Virginia has spoken – we want safe streets, we want our police to be well trained and supported in the community – and we want the rule of law respected. I intend on delivering on my campaign promises.”
Called “the commonwealth’s law firm,” Virginia’s Office of the Attorney General can conduct or assist certain criminal investigations and prosecutions, provide information to the public on scams and enforce state consumer protections laws.
Among several other duties, the attorney general can also issue official legal opinions to lawmakers and give legal advice and representation to the governor and state government agencies. The AG’s office also works with Virginia’s law enforcement agencies “to prepare for emerging public safety threats and to promote successful, secure communities.”
Republicans have swept the top three elected offices for the first time since 2009, the year the party last won statewide in Virginia. All statewide election results in Virginia are unofficial until they are certified by the State Board of Elections on Nov. 15.