GOP leads AG race by just 17 votes after drama at Richmond City Hall

Posted at 9:07 PM, Nov 10, 2013

HAPPENING NOW: Follow Joe St. George on Twitter from updates from City Hall.

RICHMOND, VA (WTVR) -- The race for the next Virginia's Attorney General has still not been decided.

As of Sunday night, Republican Senator Mark Obenshain leads Democrat Senator Mark Herring by just 17 votes.

The race tighten drastically over the weekend following Fairfax County fixing an earlier mistake that left over 3,000 absentee ballots, mostly Democratic, uncounted.

The slim margin is leaving both parties scrambling to make sure no party is scheming against the other.

That was on display Sunday outside Richmond City Hall where lawyers for both the Obenshain and Herring campaigns gathered.

According to the Republican Party of Virginia, a Republican on the Richmond electoral board, Bill Thomas, was not allowed to enter City Hall -- despite the lights being on in the Registrar's office and another electoral board member being inside.

"There not letting anybody in, the lights are on but they wouldn't let a member of the electoral board in and that causes great concern," Garren Shipley, RPV communications director, told CBS 6 reporter Joe St. George.

Democrat lawyers gathered once they found out Republicans were assembling.

"We are just keeping an eye on this. We have attorneys around the state who are interested in being helpful," Lauren Harmon, Executive Director of the Democratic Party of Virginia, said.

After an hour or so of standing outside city hall, party officials began to leave the scene.

According to Richmond registrar J. Kirk Showalter, it is true that Bill Thomas was initially denied access to her office and that another board member was inside at the time.

But Showalter said that other board member was the chair of the Electoral Board and they were simply planning for Monday's 1 p.m. meeting.

Showalter said Thomas was denied entry because if he had entered it would of constituted an illegal board meeting.

When CBS 6 spoke with Thomas, he told a CBS 6 reporter that he did not feel "slighted."

But the scene is just one example of how close each party is monitoring the AG race.

Local registrars have until Tuesday to submit voting totals to the State. Then the state will tabulate and certify results.

However, if the margin of victory is less than one percent, the trailing candidate is entitled to a recount. If the margin of victory is less than one half of one percent the state would pay for the recount process.

Stay with and CBS 6 News for the latest developments on this story.