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The attorney general race in Virginia

Republican John Adams, left, is challenging incumbent Democrat Attorney General Mark Herring in Virginia. Photos: Steve Helber / AP

The gubernatorial standoff between Democrat Ralph Northam and Republican Ed Gillespie may be taking national headlines today, but another race worth paying attention to down-ballot pits incumbent Democrat Attorney General Mark Herring against Republican federal prosecutor and military veteran John Adams to be Virginia's attorney general.

Why we're paying attention: Attorneys general across the country, including Herring himself, have been playing a big role in countering Trump's policies this year, in particular the various iterations of the travel ban. And in the last several years, Virginia has been at the center of some national debates, including same sex marriage — his refusal to back Virginia's ban on same sex marriage elevated the issue to the Supreme Court and effectively legalized same sex marriage nationwide.