Mark Herring reflects on 8 years as Virginia’s attorney general and what’s next

Politics

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — When Mark Herring leaves the Virginia Attorney General’s Office on Saturday, he will take with him no regrets.

“All of the actions that I have taken are firmly grounded in the law and also in the best interest of the people of Virginia.”

He refers to himself as the “people’s attorney.” He went in fighting almost on day one as he refused to defend Virginia’s ban on gay marriage.

“We knew that we were going to be on the right side of history but we were also on the right side of the law, a position that was vindicated ultimately in the Supreme court,” Herring said.

He boasts of turning the office into a progressive powerhouse. He fought conservatives on issues such as abortion, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, affordable health care and won the nation’s first preliminary injunction against President Donald Trump over his ban on Muslim immigrants.

Herring’s successor, Republican Jason Miyares, accused him of politicizing the office.

To that point, Herring said, “My feeling about it was ‘You work really hard to get into a position like this, you bring a new vision to the job, you have an opportunity to really help people, what good does that do if you feel constrained to politics or whatever?'”

One of his final actions in office has been to file suit against the town of Windsor alleging a pattern of discriminatory policing.

A viral video released last spring showed two officers pointing a gun and pepper-spraying an Army lieutenant during a traffic stop. That led Herring’s office to investigate department practices.

“The town had ample opportunity to make reforms it needed to make and didn’t, so I felt compelled to go ahead and bring suit,” Herring told WAVY.

Herring will not be in the office to see the Windsor case through, nor the one he filed to recognize Virginia’s ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment — though he wishes he could.

As for the future, the man who aspired to become governor, until the blackface scandal of 2019, told WAVY, you just never know.

“I know that because I have been able to work so successfully in the highest echelons of the law and politics in Virginia and nationally, there are going to be some great opportunities for me in the future,” Herring said.

He and his wife, Laura are planning to take a few days off to relax and travel the commonwealth before he begins his next chapter.

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