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Recount starts in Virginia attorney general's race

RICHMOND, Virginia (Reuters) - A recount began on Monday in the election for Virginia attorney general, the tightest race in the state's modern history.

A mere 165 votes out of 2.2 million cast separated Democrat Mark Herring, who has declared victory, from Republican Mark Obenshain, who requested the recount.

A three-judge panel is overseeing the recount and will report its findings this week.

State law provides that when less than 1 percent of the total votes cast separates two candidates, a recount may be requested by the losing candidate after the results are certified by the State Board of Elections.

A win by Herring, a state senator, would give Democrats a sweep of three statewide races in the November 5 election. Herring and Obenshain, also a state senator, are contending to succeed Republican Ken Cuccinelli, who lost the governor's race to Democrat Terry McAuliffe.

Democrat Ralph Northam defeated Republican E.W. Jackson in the race for lieutenant governor.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Barbara Goldberg)