He clerked for conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas; was associate White House counsel to President George W. Bush; and served as a federal prosecutor in Richmond, putting bad guys behind bars.
Now, in private practice, the attorney represents the other side, defending corporations from federal agencies with what he characterized as prosecutorial powers.
Despite all that he’s done in his 43 years, Adams said it is something missing from qualifications that will give him a clear edge over incumbent Democrat Mark Herring come Nov. 7: He’s not a politician and has never run for as much as school board.
“Virginia needs a lawyer, not another politician,” Adams said in a wide-ranging interview Monday with the Daily News-Record.
“I think I’ve been as well prepared as anyone possibly could be to be the commonwealth’s lawyer,” he continued. “I decided I had to be in this race when Herring announced he was going to run again. Instead of being the attorney general, and enforcing the state’s laws, he has openly challenged ... Virginia’s constitution.”
Republicans have sought to portray Herring as an activist less interested in enforcing existing law than in promoting a liberal agenda that is pro-abortion, LGBT-friendly and anti-gun.
Left or right, being so agenda-centric, Adams said, undermines the state attorney general’s leadership of Virginia’s judicial system, which he called “the independent branch of government.”
“His is an agenda that doesn’t match up even with the middle-left of the political spectrum that Virginia has moved to,” Adams said.
“The office has become completely politicized, and I have little experience or interest in politics,” he continued. “When the laws of the commonwealth come under attack, the laws on the books, put there by the people’s duly elected representatives, an attorney has a responsibility to defend his client, in this case, Virginia.”
Asked about whether he could defend state laws that he found abhorrent, Adams said that in addition to defense, a good lawyer advises his client on how to avoid needing to be defended in the first place.
“An important part of the job is giving just, fair and timely advice to both Democrats and Republicans in everything from the General Assembly to local school boards,” he said.
John and his wife, Lisa, met when they were both 15 and attending high school in Midlothian, where he first tasted public service and the call of duty by joining the local volunteer fire department before graduating.
The couple has four sons, Thomas, Daniel, Andrew and Henry.
Did they ever consider naming one of them Sam, after President John Adams’ cousin, a noted firebrand in the years leading up to the American Revolution?
Adams, the one running for state attorney general, said he believes he is cousins with the more historic Adamses; both families claim roots back to Bainbridge, Mass.
Asked if he was up for running against an incumbent attorney general — Herring is serving his first term as the first Democrat in 20 years to have the job — Adams was emphatic.
“I think I’m going to win,” he said.
Unable to resist, he closed the interview with what he admitted is a practiced line referencing the original Adams’ famous political rival and colleague, the fledgling republic’s third president.
“As long as a candidate named Thomas Jefferson does not get on the ballot.”
This article originally ran in the Daily News-Record: http://www.dnronline.com/news/elections/gop-nominee-for-virginia-ag-visits-city/article_a568ef04-39e5-11e7-8547-079712c7b2c5.html