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AG or fundraiser?

Date published: 11/17/2013

AS THE VIRGINIA attorney gen- eral's race heads for a recount, it is time for sitting Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli to do what he should have done long before this--step aside.

Mr. Cuccinelli, a Republican, has been soliciting money for Republican contender Mark Obenshain. Whether Mr. Obenshain or Democrat Mark Herring is ahead when the State Board of Elections certifies the results of the historically tight race on Nov. 25, the loser almost certainly will call for a recount. The state pays for the recount if there's less than a 0.5 percent difference, which there surely will be. However, both sides will be putting boots on the ground in Virginia's 134 localities. The state doesn't pay for that, and it could get expensive.

Mr. Cuccinelli, who lost the gubernatorial race to Terry McAuliffe, says there's no conflict of interest. However, there certainly is at least a perceived one, a cloud that Mr. Cuccinelli could make disappear by recusing himself.

Many thought he should have resigned as attorney general as soon as he announced that he was running for governor. Nine of 10 state AGs who ran for the top post in the past did just that, including current Gov. Bob McDonnell.

The AG race already is starting to make the state look too much like hanging-chad Florida. A tabulation machine breakdown in Fairfax led to 3,000 votes not being counted. In Richmond, officials initially failed to enter some 200 votes. Who knows what else a recount will dredge up?

Having the Republican attorney general solicit funds to aid the Republican candidate seeking to be his successor further tarnishes the reputation of a state proud of its record for honest, untainted elections.

Either Mr. Cuccinelli is his state's lawyer or he is a fundraiser for his party's candidate. He should not be both.