RICHMOND — A second Republican has announced that he is seeking the party's nomination for attorney general in 2017.
John Adams, a former federal prosecutor and naval officer who worked in the President George W. Bush White House, said last week that he's best qualified to challenge Attorney General Mark Herring (D), who is running for a second term. Del. Robert B. Bell (R-Albemarle) is also running for the GOP nod, he announced in December.
Adams, 42, of Chesterfield, is a first-time candidate.
"I've spent most of my life in public service and I just have a deep care for my state and my country and I always have. You start to see things as an attorney that folks who have been running the show don't seem to be doing it the right way," he said.
Democrats quickly pounced, dubbing Adams "the Hobby Lobby lawyer" for filing a brief supporting a 2014 Supreme Court decision that protects some corporations from having to provide contraceptive coverage that offends the owners' religious beliefs.
"John Adams fought for a principle Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg called a 'minefield' that would 'deny legions of women who do not hold their employers' beliefs access to contraceptive coverage' during the infamous Hobby Lobby case," Susan Swecker, chairwoman of the state Democratic Party, said in a statement.
The party likened Adams to former attorney general Ken Cuccinelli, a Republican who lost to Terry McAuliffe in the governor's race.
"In 2013, women rejected candidates who sought to infringe upon their access to health care, and Adams's clear stance echoes Ken Cuccinelli's dangerous and invasive views that hinder a woman's right to choose and access to birth control," Swecker said.
Adams shrugged off the criticism and said his experience makes him the best choice to take on Herring, who has become a hero to the left for his stances on gun control, abortion rights and immigration.
Adams graduated from the Virginia Military Institute and went on to serve two tours of duty — in the Persian Gulf, and in Central America for counter-narcotics operations — as a U.S. Navy officer. After that, he went to the University of Virginia law school and clerked for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas before serving as associate White House counsel in the Bush administration, according to his campaign.
He returned to the Richmond area as a federal prosecutor and now leads the government investigations department at McGuire Woods, the powerhouse law firm.