Morrisey again requests debate with McGraw

CHARLESTON -- Republican candidate Patrick Morrisey hand-delivered a letter to incumbent state Attorney General Darrell McGraw on Thursday with a final request to debate in public.

Morrisey gave McGraw the letter during an editorial board meeting with the Charleston Gazette.

“I write to you this final time on the matter because I am an optimist and believe you may still have some civil discourse left within you,” Morrisey wrote, according to a copy of the letter sent with a press release. “If I do not hear from you by Thursday, Oct. 18, 2012, I will assume you have refused for the remainder of the campaign.

"I urge you to respect basic decorum and transparency and agree to debate -- for the sake of the future of our great state."

Morrisey has pushed for a public debate since this spring's primary election. McGraw had declined to debate every time Morrisey has issued a request or sent a letter seeking one.

“The Attorney General has a job mandated by the West Virginia Constitution and the Legislature to enforce the law and to represent the state of West Virginia in enforcement of the law,” McGraw told The Record in June. “Any debate would revolve around law enforcement, and I believe law enforcement and politics should not be mixed.

“I don’t think it’s good policy to mix law enforcement and politics.”

Politico called that excuse "absurd."

Last week, on MetroNews' "Talkline" with Hoppy Kercheval, McGraw offered a different reason.

“It goes like this,” McGraw told Kercheval. “Challengers always like to make some kind of issue that will be controversial and in error. They usually can’t draw attention to themselves on their own. They have to have a foil to attack against.”

McGraw campaign spokeswoman Denise Tucker on Thursday reiterated McGraw's previous comments.

"He (Morrisey) can get his own audience," she said. "People are saying debates this late in the game don't change anyone's mind anyway.

But, the judge has answered this debate question, and his answer hasn't changed. The judge's record speaks for itself."

Morrisey campaign manager Scott Will said that with only 26 days before the election, "Time is running out for McGraw to change course and, for the first time in his 20 years as Attorney General, give the voters an opportunity to hear both candidates discuss their differences in a public setting."

In his latest letter to McGraw, Morrisey said he believe West Virginia voters deserve to see both of them discussing their vision.

Our philosophies are very different," Morrisey wrote. "I respectfully disagree with your endorsement of President Obama and your refusal to fight his signature priorities, including Obamacare and the War Against Coal. I also believe that settlement money should be returned to the Legislature and the taxpayers.

"But these differences deserve discussion in a public setting. Undoubtedly, you grow tire of my persistence. As such, I will ask you one last time. Would you agree to one recorded public debate for the benefit of the voters of our state?"

Morrisey told McGraw he is an optimist and believes McGraw "may still have some civil discourse left within you."

"However, I will also be clear that if you do not agree to debate, I will do my best to explain your positions to the voters of our state," Morrisey wrote. "In life, one can only spend so much time on a fruitless effort.

"I urge you to respect basic decorum and transparency and agree to debate -- for the sake of the future of our great state."

The general election is Nov. 6.

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