CHARLESTON – In the final days of the state Attorney General campaign, both sides are pulling out all stops against their opponent.
On Oct. 25, Attorney General Darrell McGraw’s campaign manager issued a press release saying Republican challenger Patrick Morrisey’s family doesn’t live in West Virginia.
“The Republican nominee for Attorney General of West Virginia didn't move his family from New Jersey after being soundly defeated in the New Jersey Republican primary election for Congress, as I presumed,” John Mitchell wrote in the release. “Apparently, he moved them to Virginia. Alexandria, Virginia, to be precise, where his wife still lives and is registered to vote in Fairfax County and where his child attends school.”
Morrisey told the Charleston Gazette on Monday that the attacks against his wife and family were a "low blow."
"We've been slowly climbing, and we're now even in the polls," Morrissey told the Gazette. "They're desperately trying to drag me through the mud a week before Election Day because they're about to lose.
"It's a very low blow for Darrell McGraw to attack my wife and stepdaughter and bring them into this campaign. It shows just how desperate he is, and how he's losing this race. To bring a family into this is not the kind of politics West Virginians deserve."
Mitchell said Morrisey’s family bought a “summer home in Harpers Ferry.”
“Mr. Morrisey continued to practice law and lobby in Washington, D.C., for the years after their purchase,” he wrote. “Four days before filing for the Republican nomination for Attorney General, he finally took the time to get himself admitted into the West Virginia State Bar presumably as a resident of our state.”
Morrisey told the Gazette he bought his home in Jefferson County in 2006, which was two years before he got married. He said that home is where he resides full-time. He also said he’s written guest columns for local newspapers there since the move.
"I've been very active in the community," Morrisey told the Gazette. "It's not like I've been hiding."
Morrisey also said he has represented West Virginia clients in the past and had begun the process of obtaining his West Virginia law license months before opting to run for office.
"It's a many, many month process," Morrisey told the Gazette. "I started the process a long time ago.
Mitchell also notes that Morrisey doesn’t know what West Virginians want.
“Mr. Morrisey, a man who has made his livelihood working for high powered Washington law firms apparently representing the very entities that Attorney General McGraw has successfully held accountable for the people of West Virginia, now wants us to put him in as the Attorney General for our own good,” Mitchell wrote. “He says he knows what's best for us here in West Virginia.
“Folks, I humbly submit that he doesn't have an agenda for us in West Virginia. Patrick Morrisey's agenda points in one direction -- Washington, D.C. Heck, just read his campaign brochures. It's all about Washington.”
Mitchell then stressed McGraw’s service to the state.
“Attorney General McGraw and his family have made a life-time commitment as public servants to the people of West Virginia,” Mitchell wrote. “Their only agenda for generations in our proud state has been to make it a better place. He was born here. He has lived his whole life here. He has invested his life to those of us who truly call this place home. West Virginia, not Washington, D.C.”
State Democratic Party Chairman Larry Puccio made similar statements.
“Morrisey has only lived in West Virginia for a few years,” Puccio said in a statement on McGraw’s campaign Facebook page. “He was born in New Jersey, raised in New Jersey, attended college and law school in New Jersey, and ran for Congress in New Jersey. In fact, most of his campaign contributions have come from outside our state.”
Puccio also praised McGraw.
“While our Attorney General Darrell McGraw has been working tirelessly to protect West Virginia consumers, Patrick Morrisey has been busy building a political operation to attack our legislators and legislative candidates – many over votes when they weren’t even in the Legislature,” he wrote. “To fight against the brazenness and arrogance of the Republican Party, we must stand together in support of all Democratic candidates in these final days of the campaign.”
West Virginia Republican Party Chairman Conrad Lucas countered.
“When the state's chief law enforcement officer resorts to spreading desperate lies about his opponent, you know he's in trouble,” Lucas said in his own release. “This week, Darrell McGraw and his personal injury bar pals panicked. Fearing the loss of the torrent of taxpayer dollars, they're reduced to lying about Republican nominee Patrick Morrisey.
“West Virginians are concerned about incumbent McGraw's enthusiastic support for President Obama. McGraw has squandered millions of taxpayer dollars on selfish promotional ads and that he's put seniors' health care at risk by choosing to send millions in settlement dollars to campaign donors instead of the Medicaid program it was supposed to fund.”
Lucas said McGraw chose to attack Morrisey instead of addressing those issues. He said McGraw “poured into the gutter to distort the strong legal background that Patrick Morrisey would bring to the table as West Virginia Attorney General.”
"McGraw may have held legal public office for 32 years, but you wouldn't know it by the way he's acted during this campaign," Lucas wrote. “He keeps lying about Patrick Morrisey's background. Not a surprise after the way he lied to West Virginia taxpayers about his military service to scam pension dollars from our treasury.
“McGraw won't step up to the plate and accept responsibility for treating tax dollars like personal campaign funds or turning his back on coal miners. West Virginians want change and Darrell will get that message soon enough.”
Lucas also noted that McGraw’s campaign is trailing in donations.
McGraw's lagging campaign has been propped up by out-of-state third party organizations, and their Obama donors, as well as a PAC … which is funded by a suspicious corporation that was just established this summer,” Lucas wrote. “Morrisey, a resident of Jefferson County and nationally prominent health care lawyer, has a distinguished career highlighted by his work on the 26 state lawsuit to challenge Obamacare, an endeavor that McGraw chose to avoid. Morrisey served as Chief Legal Counsel to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and has held multiple senior roles with large law firms.”
Lucas said he is confident Morrisey’s message is being heard.
"West Virginia is the second poorest state in the nation, and this is due to the failed Democratic policies of Darrell McGraw and the West Virginia Democratic Party,” he said Tuesday. “Darrell McGraw can't run on his record because not even he can be proud of such miserable failures. B e
“While Darrell McGraw and the West Virginia Democratic Party continue to try to distract voters from their failed record, Patrick Morrisey will focus on bringing thousands of lost jobs back to our state, cleaning up the corruption that has long infested the Office of Attorney General, and standing up the over-reach of the Obama Administration and the Democratic War On Coal.
“It is time to elect an Attorney General of which we can be proud, and that's why Patrick Morrisey is going to win on Election Day."
Morrisey said McGraw only has his own interests in mind.
“He spends all his time spending millions of dollars of taxpayers' money, and he doesn't even run his own office,” Morrisey told the Gazette. “Darrell McGraw's wrongdoing and shameless self-promotion is overwhelming. It's outrageous for McGraw to spend this taxpayer money on his re-election campaign."
On Wednesday, McGraw campaign spokeswoman Denise Tucker responded to Morrisey's comments.
"It’s amazing to me when they say it’s a low blow," she said. "But the reason we did this is, if you go back, how many newspaper articles there were where he stated that he moved his family to Harpers Ferry. His wife lives in Alexandria. She votes there. The daughter goes to school there.
"If your wife can’t vote for you, why should we vote for you?"
But Tucker said she took most offense to Lucas' comments about McGraw's military service.
"To question a military veteran’s record of serving our country," she said. "Why would he even make such a comment? Enough of the lies. I can’t take anyone challenging the Attorney General's service. He served in the United States and overseas, and he served with honor."
She challenged Morrisey's campaign or the Republican Party.
"Tell us one lie that we have put out," Tucker said. "To the best of our knowledge, there hasn’t been one lie put out about our opponent."