Attorney General Mark Herring Is Man to Watch

Sweet Briar deal is latest example of legal activism.

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As evident from the weekend deal to keep Sweet Briar College open, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring is all over the place.

The 53-year-old Democrat, who obviously wants to run for governor eventually, was instrumental in brokering a deal that would keep the all-female college scheduled for closure in August.

In that deal, backers of the college would need to come up with $12 million, with $2.5 million due July 2, to keep the school open. He also proposes releasing $16 million from the school’s restricted trust. A new board of directors and president are on tap. A Bedford County judge approved the plan today.

This isn’t the only time Herring has jumped into action. He was barely in office last year when he refused to defend the Virginia Marriage Amendment, which stated that marriage could be only between a man and a woman.

Defying some in the General Assembly, he filed in favor of a lawsuit by gay couples that brought favorable federal court rulings. Of course, the U.S. Supreme Court might change everything this week, but Herring’s action cleared the way for gay marriage in the Old Dominion.

He’s also backed President Obama on his order (still being challenged in court) to remove legal actions against up to five million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. He’s pushed in favor of illegal immigrants on other issues such as allowing them to get in-state college tuition benefits.

Herring, who was educated at the University of Virginia and the University of Richmond, and is from Loudoun County, is a far cry from his predecessor, Kenneth Cuccinelli, who espoused hard-right views but was just as active as Herring.

He’s definitely a politician to watch.

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