- The Magazine
Del. Rob Bell (R-Charlottesville, Elkton, Cunningham) will challenge Attorney General Mark Herring to be Virginia’s top law enforcement officer in 2017.
Bell, who was first elected to the House of Delegates in 2001, represents a very gerrymandered district in the greater Charlottesville area. He has run as both a fiscal and social conservative, including in 2013 when he first sought the attorney general post. That year, he lost out to Sen. Mark Obenshain (R-Harrisonburg, Luray, Front Royal) at the state GOP convention to determine the party’s nominee.
On his official campaign website, Bell touts his “pro-life” record, support for various educational initiatives — including a special carve-out that would allow home schoolers to compete on sports teams for their local public high school — and numerous other conservative policies. He also states unequivocally that he “supports the traditional definition of marriage, and voted for Virginia’s Constitutional marriage amendment.”
During his nearly decade-and-a-half in the House of Delegates, Bell has voted against any measure that would extend rights to LGBT Virginians, and even voted against confirming Judge Tracy Thorne-Begland because he was openly gay.
LGBT rights group Equality Virginia blasted Bell soon after he announced his candidacy.
“The 2013 elections set a new standard — every candidate that won statewide office campaigned openly in support of gay and transgender Virginians,” James Parrish, the executive director of Equality Virginia, said in a statement. “Their win ushered in a new Virginia, one that recognizes the value that diversity, inclusion, and equality bring to our commonwealth. Looking towards the 2017 elections, Equality Virginia believes all candidates should support this new vision for Virginia.
“Unfortunately, a Bell candidacy for Attorney General does not. Delegate Bell’s support of the unconstitutional marriage amendment, adoption and foster care laws that discriminate against lesbian and gay couples, and his vote against Judge Thorne-Begland shows his vision for Virginia does not align with the majority of Virginia’s voters.”
Mark Herring is the most pro-LGBT attorney general in Virginia’s history, and widely thought to be eyeing the governor’s mansion for a future run. However, in September he announced that he would run for re-election as attorney general rather than contest the top spot. In doing so, he avoided what could have been a very nasty and bruising primary against fellow Democrat and current Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam.
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