Mark Herring

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Mark Herring
47th Attorney General of Virginia
In office
January 11, 2014 – January 15, 2022
GovernorTerry McAuliffe
Ralph Northam
Preceded byKen Cuccinelli
Succeeded byJason Miyares
Member of the Virginia Senate
from the 33rd district
In office
February 1, 2006 – January 11, 2014
Preceded byBill Mims
Succeeded byJennifer Wexton
Member of the
Loudoun County Board of Supervisors
from the Leesburg district
In office
January 1, 2000 – December 31, 2003
Preceded byJoan Rokus
Succeeded byJim Clem
Personal details
Mark Rankin Herring

(1961-09-25) September 25, 1961 (age 62)
Johnson City, Tennessee, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Laura Herring
(m. 1990)
RelativesCharles L. Waddell (step-father)
EducationUniversity of Virginia (BA, MA)
University of Richmond (JD)

Mark Rankin Herring (born September 25, 1961)[1] is an American lawyer and politician who served as the 47th Attorney General of Virginia from 2014 to 2022. A Democrat, he previously served in the Senate of Virginia since a 2006 special election, representing the 33rd district, made up of parts of Fairfax and Loudoun counties.[1][2] In 2021, Herring lost re-election for a third term to Republican challenger Jason Miyares.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Herring was born in Johnson City, Tennessee, and moved to Leesburg, Virginia at the age of 12.[4] Raised by Jane Rankin Herring,[5] a single mother, he graduated from Loudoun Valley High School in 1979 and worked in construction and many other jobs to pay for college.[6][7] He eventually obtained a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in foreign affairs and economics at the University of Virginia.[8] He also obtained a Master of Arts in foreign affairs from UVA.[8] He later obtained a J.D. from the University of Richmond School of Law.[1][8]

Early career[edit]

He served in elected office on the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors from 2000 to 2003,[8][9][10][11] and was the town attorney for Lovettsville, Virginia, from 1992 to 1999.[10][12]

Herring was elected to the Senate of Virginia in a special election triggered by Republican Bill Mims' appointment as chief deputy attorney general of Virginia.[10][13] He was re-elected to a full term in the 2007 election, and re-elected again in 2011.[4]

He is the principal with The Herring Law Firm, P.C., in Leesburg, Virginia.

Attorney General of Virginia[edit]



Herring delivering remarks during his 2013 campaign

On July 24, 2012, he announced that he would run for the office of Attorney General of Virginia, in the 2013 elections.[14][15] On April 2, 2013, The Democratic Party of Virginia certified that Herring's name would appear on the June primary ballot.[16] Herring defeated Justin Fairfax in the Democratic primary on June 11, 2013, winning narrowly by a margin of 52% to 48%.[17]

He faced Republican Mark 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.[18] 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%.[19][20][21] Herring was sworn into office on January 11, 2014.[22]


Herring faced no opposition in the Democratic primary and won his party's endorsement for re-election.[23] He defeated Republican opponent John Donley Adams and won re-election by 53% to 47%.[24]


On September 2, 2020, Herring announced that he would be seeking re-election as attorney general instead of running for governor. On November 2, 2021, Herring lost his reelection bid to Republican challenger Jason Miyares, a Virginia House delegate.[25] He slightly outperformed the other candidates Terry McAuliffe and Hala Ayala, who were all on the Democratic ticket.


Virginia Marriage Amendment[edit]

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."[26]

Reaction to the announcement was mainly along party lines, with Democrats mostly praising the move and Republicans mostly criticizing it as violating his oath of office.[27] 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.[28] 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."[29]

The U.S. District Court in Norfolk ruled the amendment unconstitutional 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.

Gerrymandering case[edit]

In 2019, Mark Herring and the Democratic Party won their case against gerrymandering in Virginia elections when the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed the Virginia House GOP's appeal.[30]

Blackface controversy[edit]

A few days after the controversy began over a blackface picture appearing on Ralph Northam's page in a 1984 medical school yearbook in the context of the 2019 Virginia political crisis, Herring admitted to an incident in which he also wore blackface:

In 1980, when I was a 19-year-old undergraduate in college (at the University of Virginia), some friends suggested we attend a party dressed like rappers we listened to at the time, like Kurtis Blow, and perform a song.[31]

Herring had previously called on Northam to resign after the discovery of Northam's yearbook page, saying, "It is no longer possible for Governor Northam to lead our Commonwealth, and it is time for him to step down."[31] He later clarified that the discovery of the yearbook page was not the reason he called for Northam's resignation; he did so because Northam had initially admitted to appearing in the photo, but the following day, "came out with a different and contradictory account, and that was when there was an erosion of trust."[32]

Healthcare case[edit]

As attorney general of the Commonwealth of Virginia, Mark Herring took the case for Obamacare to the United States Supreme Court.[33]

Advanced Towing case[edit]

On June 25, 2020, Herring filed a lawsuit against Advanced Towing Company, LLC, a towing and recovery operator based in Arlington, Virginia. The Complaint alleges that Advanced Towing has violated Virginia and Arlington County towing code provisions, resulting in towing conduct that is “frequently predatory, aggressive, overreaching and illegal.” Virginia State Senator Chap Peterson represented Advanced Towing in the case.[34]

Personal life[edit]

Herring and his wife Laura live in Leesburg, Virginia. They have two adult children, daughter Peyton and son Tim.[4][35] His step-father was former state Senator Charlie Waddell.[5][36]

Electoral history[edit]

Board of Supervisors[edit]

1999 Loudoun County Board of Supervisors Leesburg district general election
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Mark Herring 1,655 54.10
Republican James E. Clem 1,404 45.90
Total votes 3,059 100.00

State Senate[edit]

2003 Virginia State Senate 27th district general election
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Russ Potts (incumbent) 26,152 58.18
Democratic Mark Herring 18,460 41.07
Write-in 335 0.75
Total votes 44,947 100.00
2006 Virginia State Senate 33rd district special election
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Mark Herring 12,381 61.63
Republican D.M. Staton, Jr. 7,689 38.27
Write-in 20 0.10
Total votes 20,090 100.00
2007 Virginia State Senate 33rd district election
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Mark Herring (incumbent) 27,784 56.89
Republican Patricia Phillips 20,994 42.99
Write-in 55 0.11
Total votes 48,833 100.00
2011 Virginia State Senate 33rd district election
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Mark Herring (incumbent) 14,061 54.06
Republican Patricia Phillips 11,915 45.81
Write-in 30 0.11
Total votes 26,006 100.00

Attorney General[edit]

2013 Virginia Attorney General Democratic primary election
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Mark Herring 72,861 51.66
Democratic Justin Fairfax 68,177 48.34
Total votes 141,038 100.00
2013 Virginia Attorney General election
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Mark Herring 1,105,045 49.91
Republican Mark Obenshain 1,104,138 49.87
Write-in 4,892 0.22
Total votes 2,214,075 100.00

Herring ran unopposed in the 2017 Democratic primary.

2017 Virginia Attorney General election
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Mark Herring (incumbent) 1,385,389 53.34
Republican John Donley Adams 1,209,339 46.56
Write-in 2,486 0.10
Total votes 2,597,214 100.00
2021 Virginia Attorney General Democratic primary election
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Mark Herring (incumbent) 274,736 56.63
Democratic Jay Jones 210,365 43.37
Total votes 485,101 100.00
2021 Virginia Attorney General election
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Jason Miyares 1,647,100 50.36
Democratic Mark Herring (incumbent) 1,620,564 49.55
Write-in 2,995 0.09
Total votes 3,297,659 100.00


  1. ^ a b c "Senator Mark R. Herring; Democrat - District 33". Senate of Virginia. Archived from the original on May 29, 2011. Retrieved June 8, 2011.
  2. ^ "Meet Mark Herring". Archived from the original on November 19, 2008. Retrieved January 16, 2009.
  3. ^ "Virginia Election: AG Mark Herring concedes defeat to Republican Jason Miyares". WRIC. November 3, 2021.
  4. ^ a b c Mercker, Jan (February 1, 2018). "As Herring's Profile Rises, Loudoun's Homegrown AG Stays in Touch with His Roots". Loudoun Now. Retrieved February 5, 2019.
  5. ^ a b Graham, Karen (July 26, 2022). "Local political leader Charlie Waddell dies at the age of 90". Loudoun Times-Mirror.
  6. ^ (September 2, 2015). "Herring Will Seek Second Term As AG". INSIDENOVA.COM. Retrieved February 5, 2019.
  7. ^ Prengel, Kate (February 4, 2019). "Mark Herring: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know". Retrieved February 5, 2019.
  8. ^ a b c d Schneider, Gregory S.; Vozzella, Laura. "Virginia's three leaders engulfed in turmoil, with Herring disclosure from college days". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
  9. ^ "Senator Mark R. Herring (VA)". Retrieved June 8, 2011.
  10. ^ a b c Leonor, Mel (September 2, 2020). "Attorney General Mark Herring will seek third term and will not run for governor". The Daily Progress. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
  11. ^ "Loudoun County November 2, 1999 General and Special Elections Results"". Loudoun County Office of Elections: 7.
  12. ^ Szabo, Patrick (October 12, 2020). "Local, State Leaders Celebrate the Life of Former Lovettsville Mayor Walker". Loudoun Now. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
  13. ^ Leonor, Mel (September 2, 2020). "Attorney General Mark Herring will seek third term and will not run for governor". The Roanoke Times. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
  14. ^ "Herring To Run For Attorney General Seat". Archived from the original on August 30, 2012. Retrieved July 24, 2012.
  15. ^ "Herring to seek attorney general post, restore 'credibility' to the office". Retrieved July 24, 2012.
  16. ^ Walker, Julian (April 2, 2013). "McAuliffe named Dem governor nominee, 4 others make ballot". The Virginian-Pilot. Archived from the original on May 22, 2013. Retrieved April 3, 2013.
  17. ^ Pershing, Ben and Errin Whack (June 11, 2013). "Democrats give nod to Northam, Herring in statewide races". The Washington Post. Retrieved June 12, 2013.
  18. ^ Korff, Jay (November 12, 2013). "Virginia election 2013: Mark Herring claims Attorney General victory". WJLA. Retrieved November 13, 2013.
  19. ^ Emily Schultheis (December 18, 2013). "GOP Sen. Mark Obenshain concedes in Virginia attorney general race". POLITICO. Retrieved August 7, 2015.
  20. ^ Ress, Dave (December 19, 2013). "It's official: Recount results show 907 vote margin for Herring". Daily Press. Archived from the original on January 3, 2014. Retrieved January 2, 2014.
  21. ^ Rogers, Alex (November 13, 2013). "With 164 Vote Attorney General Victory, Virginia Democrats Sweep State". Time. Retrieved November 27, 2016.
  22. ^ "McAuliffe sworn in as Virginia governor". The Washington Post. January 11, 2014. Retrieved October 1, 2020.
  23. ^ Portnoy, Jenna; Vozzella, Laura (September 2, 2015). "Va. attorney general to seek reelection, won't run for governor in 2017". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
  24. ^ Wilson, Patrick (November 7, 2017). "Democratic Attorney General Mark R. Herring wins second term". Richmond Times-Dispatch. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
  25. ^ Vozzella, Laura (September 2, 2020). "Mark Herring to run again for Virginia Attorney General, skipping governor's race". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 4, 2020.
  26. ^ Va. Attorney General Mark Herring files brief opposing same-sex marriage ban The Washington Post
  27. ^ Va. lawmakers split along party lines on AG’s move The Washington Post
  28. ^ AG wants Virginia on ;'right side of history' POLITICO
  29. ^ "Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring says gay marriage ban unconstitutional". The Washington Times. Retrieved August 7, 2015.
  30. ^ Times-Dispatch, GRAHAM MOOMAW Richmond (June 17, 2019). "U.S. Supreme Court dismisses Va. House GOP's appeal in racial gerrymandering case". Richmond Times-Dispatch. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  31. ^ a b Schneider, Gregory S.; Vozzella, Laura (February 6, 2019). "Virginia Attorney General Herring says he wore blackface in college". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  32. ^ Vozzella, Laura (March 5, 2019). "It wasn't the blackface: Virginia AG Mark Herring explains why he called for Northam's resignation". The Virginian-Pilot. Retrieved May 5, 2019.
  33. ^ Liptak, Adam; Goodnough, Abby (March 2, 2020). "Supreme Court to Hear Obamacare Appeal". The New York Times. Retrieved March 3, 2020.
  34. ^ "ATTORNEY GENERAL HERRING SUES NORTHERN VIRGINIA TOWING COMPANY". Attorney General Mark Herring. June 25, 2020. Retrieved November 11, 2021.
  35. ^ "About Mark". Mark Herring for Attorney General. Retrieved June 24, 2021.
  36. ^ "Charles L. Waddell Obituary". Loudoun Funeral Chapel.

External links[edit]

Senate of Virginia
Preceded by Member of the Virginia Senate
from the 33rd district

Succeeded by
Legal offices
Preceded by Attorney General of Virginia
Succeeded by