Current Position: Attorney General since 2014
Former Positions: State Senator for VA Senate District 33
Source: Campaign page
Mark Herring was raised by a single mother in Loudoun County, Virginia. She instilled in him that when you see a problem in your community, you have an obligation to try and fix it. He worked construction and other jobs in order to help pay for college. And he’s never forgotten where he came from, which is why he works every single day to make our families and communities safer.
As Attorney General, Mark has assembled an elite team of prosecutors to crack down on heroin dealers, violent gang members, gun runners, human traffickers, and those who attempt to exploit our children online.
He is helping survivors of sexual assault pursue justice by eliminating a three-decade-old backlog of more than 2,000 untested rape kits to find and prosecute criminals.
He has made communities safer by cracking down on illegal guns and promoting commonsense gun safety laws, like universal background checks, that keep guns out of the hands of dangerous criminals. And he has worked to improve relations between police departments and the communities they serve with innovative training and recruiting initiatives.
Since the day he was sworn in, Attorney General Herring has worked nonstop to defend the rights of Virginia taxpayers, seniors, veterans, and military families. He has won more than $100 million in debt relief and restitution for veterans and military families, and his best-in-the-nation Medicaid Fraud unit has saved taxpayers more than $60 million.
Just 12 days into his term, General Herring became the first attorney general to successfully argue that his state’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples should be struck down, winning at the district court and appeals court before the United States Supreme Court let the decision stand, bringing marriage equality to the Commonwealth within 10 months of his taking office.
He has won huge victories in courts for clean air and water including the Chesapeake Bay, for affordable health care, and for the right of all Virginians to live and worship free from hate and discrimination.
Prior to being elected Attorney General, Mark served as a state Senator representing Loudoun and Fairfax counties. Mark worked on issues facing one of America’s fastest-growing counties and some of the world’s most innovative businesses. Mark also served on Loudoun County’s Board of Supervisors, and was a small business owner, running a private practice in his hometown of Leesburg where he has practiced law for more than 20 years.
Mark received a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from the University of Virginia, and graduated with honors from the University of Richmond School of Law.
Mark and his wife, Laura, have been married for 27 years. They have two children, daughter Peyton, 24, and son Tim, 21.
Loudoun County Board of Supervisors
University of Richmond School of Law
- BA and MA
University of Virginia
Attorney General’s Office
202 North Ninth Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219
Phone: (804) 786-2071
Consumer Complaint Hotline
Phone: 1(800) 552-9963
He served in elected office on the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors from 2000 to 2003, and was the Town Attorney for Lovettsville, Virginia, from 1992 to 1999. He is the principal with The Herring Law Firm, P.C., in Leesburg, Virginia.
Herring was elected to the Senate of Virginia in a special election triggered by two-term incumbent Republican Bill Mims’ appointment as chief deputy attorney general of Virginia. He was re-elected to a full term in the 2007 election, and reelected in 2011.
On July 24, 2012, he announced that he would run for the office of Attorney General of Virginia, in the 2013 elections. On April 2, 2013, The Democratic Party of Virginia(DPVA) certified that Herring’s name would appear on the June primary ballot. On June 11, 2013, Herring won the primary.
Fellow Democrat Jennifer Wexton won the election to succeed him in representing the 33rd Senatorial District.
Attorney General of Virginia
Herring faced Justin Fairfax in the Democratic primary in June 2013, winning narrowly by a margin of 52%-48%. He faced RepublicanMark Obenshain in the general election.
On the night of the election, Obenshain held a 1,200 vote lead over Herring. Vote totals fluctuated as ballots were canvassed in the following days, and the race remained too close to call. On November 12, 2013, with all ballots counted, Herring held a 165-vote lead, or less than 0.01%, and Obenshain requested a recount. Herring’s total increased during the recount, so Obenshain conceded the election on December 18, 2013, and later that day, the recount ended with Herring winning by 907 votes, or 0.04%.
Herring was sworn into office on January 11, 2014.
Virginia Marriage Amendment
On January 23, 2014, Herring announced that he would not defend the Virginia Marriage Amendment in federal court, and filed a brief in a federal lawsuit being brought against the law asking for it to be struck down. Herring said in a press conference announcing the move, “I believe the freedom to marry is a fundamental right and I intend to ensure that Virginia is on the right side of history and the right side of the law.”
Reaction to the announcement was mainly along party lines, with Democrats mostly praising the move and Republicans mostly criticizing it as a violation of his oath of office. The National Organization for Marriage has called for Herring’s impeachment, claiming that the Virginia attorney general is obligated to defend all state laws against challenges. In the press conference, Herring said, “There are those who will say that the attorney general is required to defend every challenge to a state law, even a law that is unconstitutional. They could not be more wrong.”
The amendment would be ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. District Court in Norfolk in the case Bostic v. Schaefer on February 13, 2014. On July 28, 2014, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a 2–1 opinion upholding the lower court’s decision. This was appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States, which denied a writ of certiorari, letting the Fourth Circuit Court’s decision stand and legalizing same-sex marriage in Virginia.
Herring faced no opposition in the Democratic primary and won his party’s endorsement for re-election. He defeated Republican opponent John Donley Adams and won re-election. His former opponent and fellow lawyer Justin Fairfax won the race for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia in the same year.
2017 Attorney General
|Mark Herring (D)||1,385,390||53.3%|
|John Donley Adams (R)||1,209,540||46.6%|
|Write In (Write-in)||2,614||0.1%|
2019 Attorney General
|Mark Herring (D)||1,103,777||49.9%|
|Mark Dudley Obenshain (R)||1,103,612||49.9%|
|Write In (Write-in)||5,462||0.2%|
Source: Department of Elections
HERRING, MARK RANKIN has run in 5 races for public office, winning 4 of them. The candidate has raised a total of $18,714,153.
Source: Follow the Money
See: Vote Smart
Mark Herring became the 48th Attorney General of Virginia on January 11, 2014. He is working to keep Virginia families safe in their communities and neighborhoods, promote justice, equality, and opportunity for all Virginians, and provide legal services to the people of Virginia and their government.
As Attorney General, Mark has built a record of:
- Combating the heroin and opioid epidemic with a comprehensive strategy that includes:
- Enforcement—Attorney General Herring has assembled a team of prosecutors to take down dealers, traffickers, and those who profit off addiction. His team has worked more than 85 cases against dealers and traffickers involving more than 434 pounds of heroin, which is approximately 1.97 million doses worth about $29.5 million on the street.
- Education, Prevention, and Treatment—Attorney General Herring launched an innovative education and prevention campaign to prevent heroin and prescription drug abuse, because he knows we can’t arrest our way out of this problem. He has created an award winning documentary, “Heroin: The Hardest Hit,” and a companion website, www.HardestHitVA.com, to serve as a one-stop-shop for education, prevention, and treatment resources in Virginia.
- Legislation—Attorney General Herring has led bipartisan efforts in the General Assembly to expand the availability of naloxone, a life-saving overdose reversal drug, to law enforcement agencies, families confronting addiction, and community prevention organizations. He helped pass Virginia’s first “Good Samaritan” safe reporting law to encourage people to call 911 during an overdose.
- Fighting for Virginia taxpayers, seniors, and veterans and military families. Attorney General Herring’s Consumer Protection section has won more than $100 million in debt relief for veterans and military families who were targeted by shady businesses. He has recovered millions from banks and mortgage companies who he believes took advantage of Virginians. His Medicaid Fraud Control Unit has recovered more than $69 million for Virginia taxpayers and was named best in the nation. He has secured the largest multistate consumer settlement ever lead by Virginia and the largest ever non-healthcare settlement for claims under the Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayers Act.
- Transforming the way Virginia works to prevent and respond to sexual and domestic violence by leading a $3.4 million project to completely eliminate the Commonwealth’s backlog of more than 3,000 untested rape kits. He chaired Governor Terry McAuliffe’s Task Force on Combating Campus Sexual Violence, and has helped dozens of communities implement Lethality Assessment Protocols to protect survivors of domestic violence and prevent domestic homicides.
- Preparing the Commonwealth for emerging safety threats by providing new resources and technology to fight child exploitation, human trafficking, and gang violence, and a range cyber-crimes that target Virginia children, consumers, and businesses.
- Fighting for the fundamental rights of all Virginians, including the economic and reproductive rights of Virginia women, and the rights of LGBT Virginians to marry the person they love and be free from discrimination. He won the nation’s first preliminary injunction striking down President Trump’s unconstitutional Muslim ban, and sought new tools and provided new resources to prevent hate crimes and ensure all Virginians can live, learn, work, and worship free from discrimination and intimidation.
- Promoting a strong business environment by ensuring the laws of the Commonwealth are applied evenly and fairly so Virginia businesses can make the investments needed to succeed in the long term. He helped craft legislation to crack down on ‘patent trolls’ who tie up the courts and Virginia businesses with baseless lawsuits, and legislation to help Virginia and Virginia businesses succeed in the emerging sharing economy.
- Protecting Virginia’s natural resources by fighting in court for clean air, clean water, renewable energy, and the Chesapeake Bay. He secured Virginia’s largest ever environmental damages settlement and has numerous enforcement actions for violations of the Clean Water Act.
- Modernizing and reforming the Office of Attorney General to give taxpayers the best value for their dollar, promote transparency and accountability, and update the use of technology. On his first day in office, he instituted a strict gift ban on himself, his family, and his employees.
Mark has lived most of his life in Loudoun County. After receiving bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Virginia, he graduated with honors from the University of Richmond School of Law before returning to Loudoun and establishing a successful law practice in Leesburg.
Mark got his start in public service as the town attorney for Lovettsville, and then was elected as a member of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors. Prior to serving as Attorney General, he served eight years in the Senate of Virginia, representing parts of Loudoun and Fairfax Counties, working to bring technology-based economic development to the Northern Virginia region, secure transportation funding for needed projects, and make both state and local governments more accountable to the citizens of Virginia.
He and his wife, Laura, have been married for more than 25 years. They have raised their two children in college, daughter Peyton and son Tim, in Loudoun County, where they are members of the Leesburg Presbyterian Church.
Attorney General Mark R. Herring has been an unwavering advocate for Virginia women on issues of economic fairness, reproductive justice, and more. Along with Gov. Terry McAuliffe, he has been a brick wall against Republican attacks on a woman’s reproductive freedom, and has fought in court to defend a woman’s access to comprehensive healthcare services including abortion and birth control. In his own office, he has taken unprecedented steps to elevate women in leadership positions, build an inclusive workforce, and promote pay equity.
Attorney General Herring reversed dangerous and incorrect legal advice from his predecessor that had closed at least one women’s health clinic and threatened the closure of more through medically unnecessary and intentionally burdensome regulations. Because of his correct legal advice in what the Washington Post called “a watertight official legal opinion,” the Virginia Board of Health protected women’s health clinics from expensive and medically unnecessary retrofits that would have closed many Virginia clinics that offer abortion services.
Attorney General Herring helped defeat a 20-week abortion ban in the legislature with an official opinion that declared such a law would likely be struck down as unconstitutional, and as a state senator, he opposed legislation to restrict a woman’s access to abortion, including personhood bills and Virginia’s infamous “mandatory transvaginal ultrasound” bill.
Unlike his opponent, who has fought twice at the Supreme Court to give employers the right to influence their employees personal, private medical decisions by denying basic, preventive reproductive health coverage to their employees including in the infamousHobby Lobby case, Attorney General Herring fought alongside his colleagues to protect a woman’s access to the full range of reproductive health care services, including contraception, without interference from her boss. He also led a multi state coalition defending access to healthcare on the Affordable Care Act exchanges.
Attorney General Herring successfully fought alongside his colleagues in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt to strike down Texas’s onerous, medically unnecessary targeted regulations of abortion providers (TRAP).
Attorney General Mark R. Herring believes our Commonwealth’s diversity is one of its greatest strengths. He has had a front row seat as his home county of Loudoun has transformed itself and become more economically dynamic as it became more diverse and welcoming. He understands that immigration has been a source of economic and cultural benefit for Virginia for more than 400 years and is working each and every day to make sure that new Virginians are welcome here.
Attorney General Herring has been an outspoken advocate for minority communities, launching www.NoHateVA.com as a resource and seeking additional tools to protect those who are vulnerable from hate crimes and to hold perpetrators accountable.
Attorney General Herring has been a national leader in fighting President Trump’s unconstitutional Muslim ban, successfully arguing that the ban was unconstitutional and based on religious bigotry and winning the nation’s first preliminary injunction against the ban.
In 2014, Attorney General Herring determined that Virginia DREAMers who were protected by DACA could qualify for in-state tuition and pursue an affordable education in their home state. Since then, hundreds of Virginia students have been able to pursue an affordable education in their home state.
Attorney General Herring is working to strengthen the relationships between law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve, especially in communities of color, by providing additional training on 21st century policing skills like implicit bias, helping departments recruit more diverse officers, and encouraging positive interactions between officers and young people.
And he has worked to build a world class team of lawyers that reflects the diversity of the people they serve, including appointing the first African-American woman to serve as Chief Deputy Attorney General of Virginia.
Fighting For Equality
Just 12 days into his term, Attorney General Mark R. Herring took the historic step of joining the fight for marriage equality, winning at the district court and appeals court before the United States Supreme Court let the decision stand, bringing marriage equality to the Commonwealth within 10 months of his taking office. Attorney General Herring is the first state attorney general to successfully argue that his state’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples should be struck down as unconstitutional.
Attorney General Herring wrote an official advisory opinion that said Virginia public schools can protect LGBT students, teachers, and employees from bullying, discrimination, and harassment. He also ended a policy of the previous administration that barred Virginia colleges and universities from establishing LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination policies.
Attorney General Herring proposed and fought for an updated definition of “hate crime” to include LGBT Virginians, and for additional tools to prosecute suspected hate crimes. He signed an amicus brief in support of transgender students being able to receive an education in a comfortable environment. And he worked with Governor Terry McAuliffe to craft an Executive Order barring state contracts to companies who do not have LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination policies, mirroring President Obama’s federal executive order.
Attorney General Mark R. Herring has fought for clean air and water, open spaces, clean energy, and to hold polluters accountable. He has been a consistent voice for progress in developing clean energy and addressing climate change because of Virginia’s unique vulnerability to climate change and sea level rise.
In 2016, Attorney General Herring secured the largest environmental damages settlement in Virginia history. He has also brought successful enforcement actions against polluters who damage Virginia waterways.
He has made Virginia the first Chesapeake Bay state to successfully defend the Bay cleanup plan in court against a legal attack by out-of-state special interests and attorneys general from states as far away as Alaska.
As part of the “Green 20,” Attorney General Herring is working with a group of his fellow attorneys general who have committed to address climate change, protect progress made in recent years, and promote cleaner energy. Attorney General Herring is defending President Obama’s Clean Power Plan in court because it is an ambitious, achievable, and lawful roadmap for enjoying the health, environmental, and economic benefits of cleaner air. He has continued to oppose the Trump Administration’s attempts to withdraw the Clean Power Plan and kill pending litigation regarding its lawfulness.
In official opinions, Attorney General Herring has clarified and confirmed the ability of the Virginia Air Pollution Control Board to regulate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases and the authority of local governments to regulate “fracking.” Working with Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Attorney General Herring has helped grow solar, wind, and renewable energy sectors in Virginia, including new solar projects that will power state government facilities.
Attorney General Herring fought in court to defend Virginia’s conservation easement tax credit program, and spoke out strongly in opposition to President Trump’s proposed cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency and Chesapeake Bay Program.
Attorney General Herring has been recognized as one of Virginia’s foremost authorities in responding to the heroin and opioid crisis that is touching so many families in Virginia and around the country. Because he understands that we can’t just arrest our way out of this problem, he has relentlessly pursued a comprehensive strategy that emphasizes education, prevention, and treatment alongside enforcement against dealers and traffickers who profit off addiction.
Attorney General Herring launched an unprecedented five-point plan to address the crisis which includes legislation, education, prevention, enforcement, and collaboration. He was recognized with the “Bronze Key Award” from the McShin Foundation for his commitment and effectiveness in addressing substance abuse.
Attorney General Herring and his team have been relentless in cracking down on the dealers and traffickers who profit off addiction and threaten Virginians’ lives. He and his team have prosecuted more than 75 cases against heroin dealers and traffickers involving more than 375 pounds of heroin and fentanyl, which is about 1.69 million doses worth about $17 million on the streets.
Because education and prevention are key to solving the problem, Attorney General Herring created “Heroin: The Hardest Hit,” an award-winning documentary and a companion website www.HardestHitVA.com which serves as a one-stop shop for education and prevention materials. The film is now mandatory viewing in health education classes around the state, and the office is even educating middle schoolers on the dangers of heroin and prescription drug abuse.
The General Assembly passed two lifesaving pieces of legislation brought forward by Attorney General Herring, one to make Naloxone, a lifesaving overdose reversal drug, available without a prescription and available to all law enforcement officers and first responders, and one to create the state’s first “Good Samaritan” safe reporting law to encourage people in the presence of an overdose to call 911. Those two measures have saved thousands of lives since their enactment. This year, he helped expand Naloxone access to community organizations and nonprofits.
Attorney General Herring secured the donation of more than 80,000 drug disposal kits to get unused prescriptions out of medicine cabinets before they can be abused. He has partnered with the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District to create the Hampton Roads Heroin Work Group, and he and his team are active members of multiple heroin task forces around the state.
Attorney General Mark R. Herring is working every day to promote safe, successful communities in every corner of the Commonwealth. He has forged strong relationships with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies and prosecutors, and has made additional public safety and law enforcement tools and resources available to Virginia communities.
Attorney General Herring has been recognized as one of Virginia’s foremost authorities in responding to the heroin and opioid crisis that is touching so many families in Virginia and around the country. He has relentlessly pursued a comprehensive strategy that emphasizes education, prevention, and treatment alongside enforcement, cracking down on dealers and traffickers who profit off addiction and threaten Virginians’ lives. He and his team have prosecuted more than 75 cases against heroin dealers and traffickers involving more than 375 pounds of heroin and fentanyl, which is about 1.69 million doses worth about $17 million on the streets.
Attorney General Herring is leading a transformation in the way Virginia works to prevent and respond to sexual and domestic violence. He is leading a $3.4 million project to completely eliminate Virginia’s backlog of more than 2,000 untested rape kits. He chaired Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s Task Force on Combating Campus Sexual Violence, which helped make Virginia a national leader on the issue. He has helped implement Lethality Assessment Protocol, an innovative tool to prevent domestic violence and homicide, in dozens of communities around the Commonwealth.
Even in the NRA’s home state, Attorney General Herring has stood up to the gun lobby and a legislature that is beholden to it. He has built a record of achievement in reducing gun violence, prosecuting more than 100 cases involving illegal guns and gun violence, and has taken strong stands for commonsense gun safety measures like a reinstatement of Virginia’s “one handgun per month” law and universal background checks.
Attorney General Mark R. Herring has brought together law enforcement, community leaders, the faith community, and others to find common ground, identify solutions, and ensure the safety of our communities and the equal and fair treatment of all our citizens. He and his team helped hundreds of officers receive training in 21st century policing skills like implicit bias control, de-escalation, and crisis intervention training.
Attorney General Mark R. Herring recognizes that nothing is more important than the safety of our children. That’s why he has made Virginia a national leader in the use of innovative technology to protect children and catch perpetrators, and led a bipartisan effort to expand the reach of Virginia’s efforts. He and his team have helped put hundreds of child predators behind bars through aggressive prosecutions and digital forensics work.
Attorney General Herring and his team have worked more than 250 cases against child predators, secured jail sentences of more than 500 years, and examined more than 2,000 computers, phones, and other devices in 400 different cases. He made the services of the office more readily available and accessible to state and local law enforcement agencies and invested in a mobile computer forensics lab so technicians can analyze child pornography at the scene of the crime.
Attorney General Herring’s Office has invested in cutting edge technology that makes it easier for investigators to identify child victims and rescue them from dangerous situations. Virginia is one of only about 5 states to utilize this powerful technology, which has led to additional arrests, more than 4,000 pieces of evidence, more than 1,000 tips, and more than 200 active investigations.
Attorney General Herring has partnered with South Dakota Republican Attorney General Marty Jackley to launch the bipartisan Campaign for Child Rescue, a joint effort by child welfare advocates, law enforcement agencies, and the high-tech sector to promote new technology to make investigations easier, to build stronger cases, and to identify and rescue children from dangerous situations.
Attorney General Herring and his team have been integral to high-profile child pornography and child exploitation prosecutions including a cross-country child sex ring, a former youth hockey coach in Northern Virginia, and a former school teacher in the Richmond area.
Attorney General Herring has stood up to the gun lobby and a legislature that is beholden to it. He has built a record of combatting gun violence and has taken strong stands in favor of commonsense gun safety measures.
Attorney General Herring has assembled a team of prosecutors to crack down on felons with firearms and gun runners. He and his team prosecuted more than 100 gun crimes, including violent crimes, in both state and federal court.
Attorney General Herring has formed strong working relationships with law enforcement partners, especially in Washington, DC and Maryland, as well as building relationships with local, state, federal, and interstate law enforcement partners.
To address domestic homicide using a gun, Attorney General Herring has built a comprehensive program for training law enforcement and members of Virginia communities in the use of Lethality Assessment Protocol to save lives.
To crack down on gun running out of Virginia, he has fought for the reinstatement of Virginia’s “one handgun a month” law and mandatory background checks on all gun sales including those at gun shows.
Attorney General Herring has worked with the Virginia faith community to demand gun manufacturers implement gun safety technology and joined with the Attorneys General of Washington D.C. and Maryland to write a letter to those manufacturers requesting information on their safety measures.