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Virginia attorney general candidates debate social progress, business ahead of Election Day

Attorney General Mark Herring (D-Va.) faced his Republican challenger, Rep. Jason Miyares in Loudon County for a debate Wednesday.
Published: Oct. 13, 2021 at 4:11 PM EDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - The candidates vying to be Virginia’s top prosecutor face-off in Loudoun County.

Attorney General Mark Herring (D-Va.) and challenger Rep. Jason Miyares (R-Virginia Beach) traded the courtroom for a ballroom, juries for voters, as each try to win support ahead of November’s election.

Moderators with the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce hoped to keep debate focused on business and quality of life. But both candidates largely pivoted, spending most of their time recycling talking points and attacks.

Herring promoted legal battles he waged on the state’s behalf since 2014, referring to his, “proven record of protecting Virginians and expanding our rights.”

As examples, he cited protecting the Affordable Care Act and abortion access, as well as promoting stricter gun laws and LGBTQ rights. He argued his opponent doesn’t understand the job and would actively work to undo social progress.

”The choice is clear, and the stakes are high,” Herring said of November’s election.

Miyares portrayed his opponent’s nearly eight years in office in a different light, “this is what a failed record as Attorney General looks like.”

Miyares, a delegate in the state house and former Virginia Beach prosecutor, painted his opponent as a liberal activist and soft on crime. He blamed Herring for a rise in murders last year and the state parole board’s decision to cut corners on the way to releasing seven convicted murderers.

”We have a criminal first, victim last mindset,” he said of the way Herring and Northern Virginia prosecutors approach criminal justice. He argued the state would be safer under his watch.

Herring said he would put his record up against anyone’s.

Both candidates claimed a ‘pro-business’ mantle while tackling questions covering cyber-crime, diversity and unconscious bias, marijuana legalization, and business regulation. They could share a debate stage again next week.

Election Day is less than three weeks away. Polls show a tight race.

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