For Senator Mark Obenshain, fighting for our rights isn’t just a job—it’s a calling.
Growing up in a home in which the discussion of politics was standard fare around the dinner table each night, the son of the man often dubbed the architect of the modern Republican Party of Virginia, Mark developed a passion for politics and a zeal for public service early in life, and he has emerged as one of the Commonwealth’s leading champions of limited government, individual liberty, and personal responsibility.
Mark‘s father, Richard (“Dick”) Obenshain, served as Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia from 1972 until 1976, when he was appointed Co-Chairman of the Republican National Committee. As a party leader, Dick Obenshain was instrumental in bringing about a realignment in Virginia politics, and helped bring many conservative Democrats into the Republican fold – people like Governor Mills Godwin and Congressmen John O. Marsh, Thomas Bliley, and D. French Slaughter, Jr., among others.
The elder Obenshain ran for Congress in 1964 and for Attorney General of Virginia in 1969, while Virginia remained part of the Democratic Party’s “solid South,” and for U.S. Senate in 1978. In the 1978 contest, Dick Obenshain ran in a crowded field, which included former Governor Linwood Holton, State Senator Nathan Miller and former Secretary of the Navy John Warner. In what was, at the time, the largest political convention ever held, Mark’s father won the GOP nomination well after midnight on the sixth ballot.
Tragically, on August 2, 1978, while returning home from a campaign trip in the northern Shenandoah Valley, Dick Obenshain died in a plane crash near his home in Chesterfield County. The GOP then nominated John Warner, the eventual winner, to succeed him.
Shortly after Dick’s death, Mark’s mother Helen – a political powerhouse in her own right who would go on to serve as Virginia’s Republican National Committeewoman – found a well-worn piece of paper in his desk on which he had written out his life vision:
“The most important goal in my life is to have a meaningful impact on preserving—and expanding—the realm of personal freedom in the life of this nation.”
It is a life’s goal that Mark has adopted as his own, and which has been the driving force of his service in the Senate of Virginia, where he quickly established himself as a conservative leader, taking the lead on property rights, school choice, family values, and government reform, and emerging as one of the Senate’s leading voices on public safety and other key issues.
Mark was elected to the Senate of Virginia in 2003, and he currently serves on five committees: Privileges and Elections, which he chairs; Courts of Justice; Commerce and Labor; Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources; and Rules.
In his professional life, Mark is one of the founders of the Harrisonburg and Charlottesville-based law firm of Lenhart Obenshain PC. For twenty-five years Mark has practiced law in Harrisonburg and in Central Virginia, representing individuals and businesses in a wide range of legal matters.
In addition to his law practice and service in the Senate, Mark is active in variety of civic, community, professional, and political organizations. In 1994, Governor George Allen appointed him to serve on the Governor’s Commission on Citizen Empowerment, which established the framework for Allen’s comprehensive welfare reform program and served as a blueprint for federal welfare reform two years later. He subsequently served as a member of the Commission on Welfare Reform.
When Governor Bob McDonnell made good on his campaign promise to establish a Governor’s Commission on Government Reform and Restructuring, Mark was one of the charter members, working to identify efficiencies, eliminate waste and fraud, consolidate duplicative functions and agencies, and make government more citizen-friendly.
In his own community, Mark served as a member of James Madison University’s Board of Visitors, and also served on the boards of the Harrisonburg Education Foundation, Mercy House, and the Shenandoah Valley Technology Council, as well as on the Advisory Board for the Harrisonburg Rescue Squad.
Mark and his wife Suzanne have two children, Anne Tucker and Sam, who are both attending Virginia universities, and they are active members of Harrisonburg’s First Presbyterian Church.
Mark has been politically active practically his entire life. He has served as the chairman of two Republican committees, has been a delegate to every Republican state convention since 1980, and was a member of Virginia’s delegation to the 1980 Republican National Convention, which nominated Ronald Reagan. Mark has worked on the campaigns of virtually every Republican nominee for state and local office since he began practicing law in Harrisonburg in 1987, and he serves as the President of the Richard D. Obenshain Foundation, which provides the Republican Party of Virginia with the building that is its permanent home.
Mark continues to champion the same values that inspired his father, and has become one of Virginia’s leading proponents of reform-minded limited government conservatism. With your help, he will take that same vision and commitment to the office of Attorney General, where he will continue to work to preserve and expand the realm of personal freedom in the life of this Commonwealth and this country.