Delegate Rob Bell has announced that he’ll seek the Republican nomination for Attorney General in the 2013 election, Ted Strong reports for the Daily Progress. The Republican, an attorney, has represented the conservative 58th District since 2002, a district that draws the bulk of its population from Albemarle County. Bell’s interest in the job has been well-known for years, and he’s long maintained one of the largest amounts of cash on hand in the House of Delegates, despite being in a safely conservative district. Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli said yesterday that he intends to run for governor, so the Republicans interested in running for AG weren’t going to wait long to make their candidacy announcements. Bell has clearly been preparing for an AG race: he’s the chair of the Virginia Crime Commission, and legislative portfolio has always consisted mostly of crime-related bills. (During this year’s session alone he introduced a dozen bills on that topic.) He’s never faced a strong challenger, having been challenged in only half of his races, winning those races with 60%, 62%, and 67% of the vote.
Senator Mark Obenshain (R-Harrisonburg) is another likely candidate, and he’ll pose a strong challenge to Bell. Obenshain comes from a powerful Virginia family. His sister, Kate Obenshain, used to be the executive director of the Republican Party of Virginia, and his father, Richard Obenshain, was a major political figure in Virginia for two decades, until his death in a 1978 plane crash. (Obenshain was the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate at the time. John Warner was selected to replace him, won election, and remained in that position for 31 years.) The Republican Party of Virginia’s headquarters, in fact, is named the The Richard D. Obenshain Center. Sen. Obenshain is also a friend of Cuccinelli’s, no small detail for those interested in having a unified ticket on the 2012 ballot.