CHARLESTON – West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has earned a second term with a victory in the state’s most expensive general election race of 2016.
With 91 percent of statewide precincts reporting at 11:25 p.m., the Republican incumbent had 51 percent of the vote to Democratic challenger Doug Reynolds’ 42 percent. Libertarian Party candidate Karl Kolenich and Mountain Party candidate Michael Sharley had 3 percent each.
“Tonight is a time for truth,” Morrisey said during his victory speech. “After vicious attacks from the liberal media and $5 million of negative and deceitful ads that attacked me and my family, the voters have spoken. And they’ve spoken with a loud voice. Today, at least in the state of West Virginia in this race, truth has prevailed.”
Morrisey said he kept his promises that he made during his 2012 campaign, but said he has “a lot of additional work to do.”
“I’m going to ask the Legislature for more authority to be able to go over these drug kingpins that spread poison to our children,” he said, referring to the state’s drug problem. “There’s a lot we can do if we work together. Hopeful I can create a new Medicaid fraud unit within our office.”
In his concession speech in Huntington, Reynolds said his campaign ran a great race despite being outspent 2-to-1 by out-of-state special interests.
“I enjoyed traveling around the state meeting people, and I thank them for opening their hearts and homes to me over the past year,” he said. “I have been honored to serve the people of my district and the state through my work in the West Virginia Legislature, and I don't intend to stop that service as a private citizen.
“Our focus now needs to turn to aggressively attacking the drug epidemic that is plaguing our state and killing our children. I look forward to remaining involved in the policy discussions about the future of West Virginia.”
The chairman of the Republican Attorneys General Association said Morrisey’s victory “is a win for West Virginia’s economy.”
“The voters recognized they have someone who will fight for them and affirmed they want an attorney general who is not afraid to stand up to Washington,” Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said. “General Morrisey earned his re-election by fighting federal overreach, taking on the opioid addiction crisis and building a better business climate for West Virginia.
“He is a strong attorney general for his state, and we look forward to continuing to work with him on the important issues facing our nation.”
Admitting it was a difficult race, Morrisey said the state now needs to look forward.
“We have an opportunity here in West Virginia,” he said. “We can be that shining state in the mountains. We have a chance to come together and put the people’s interest first.
“We have to stop all of this nonsense partisanship we’ve seen in Charleston the last couple of years.”
Reynolds also looked ahead.
“I’m obviously disappointed,” he said. “But the current Attorney General … statewide, voters just preferred his message to mine.
“I’m going to go to bed and wake up tomorrow morning. We knew there were going to be those issues to overcome. We just weren’t able to do enough to win.”
Reynolds poured in millions of his family’s money into the race, and RAGA spent more than $6 million on the race. That led to advertising from both sides attacking the other.
Reynolds’ campaign contended Morrisey had conflicts because he was a former lobbyist for the drug companies his office were suing.
Morrisey was critical of Reynolds on several fronts, saying he used his family money to finance his campaign and that he had not done much recent work as an attorney. He also tied Reynolds to Hillary Clinton, who lost by a wide margin in West Virginia because of her anti-coal stance.