McGraw running for sixth term

By Chris Dickerson | Jun 29, 2011


CHARLESTON – Attorney General Darrell McGraw is running for a sixth term.

Earlier this month, McGraw filed pre-candidacy papers with the Secretary of State's office to begin campaigning.

McGraw, a Democrat, has been attorney general since 1992, and he was a member of the state Supreme Court of Appeals from 1976 to 1988.

In his last two races, McGraw narrowly has defeated his Republican challengers -- Hiram Lewis in 2004 and Dan Greear in 2008 -- in the general election.

In the 2008 race, McGraw's campaign had a website that tried to debunk common "myths" about him and his work as AG. He blamed the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for spreading misinformation about him. The West Virginia Record is owned by the Institute for Legal Reform, an affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

In particular, McGraw's 2008 campaign site said three publicized "myths" troubled him: The American Tort Reform Association citing him as a reason it ranked West Virginia as the No. 1 Judicial Hellhole in the country, the Competitive Enterprise Institute calling him the sixth-worst state attorney general in recent history and Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse claiming his actions have harmed the state's senior citizens.

"In reality, the (ATRA, CEI and CALA) are the sophisticated lobbying tool of the National Chamber of Commerce, whose members are regulated by the Attorney General's Office under the laws of West Virginia," the site said. "Big tobacco and the insurance and pharmaceutical industries fund bogus studies, which spew misinformation with the intent to influence West Virginia's political process."

McGraw's Consumer Protection Division has been praised for its work on behalf of West Virginia's citizens, but he also has drawn criticism from people and groups that say he wrongly handles lawsuit settlement funds.

Those critics argue that it isn't part of McGraw's job to hand out the money. They say the AG's office should put the lawsuit settlements into the state's general revenue fund. Then, legislators would decide how the money should be spent.

McGraw, 74, was born in Wyoming County. After a stint in the U.S. Army, McGraw attended West Virginia University and the WVU College of Law.

As a student at WVU, McGraw helped save the mast of the U.S.S. West Virginia. McGraw and others arranged to have the mast transported by railroad from the west coast. It now is a permanent reminder of history of WVU's campus. McGraw joins with the local VFW each year in remembrance of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7 at the mast.

After college, McGraw served as counsel to West Virginia Gov. Hulett C. Smith, as counsel to the state Legislature and worked in private practice before his time on the state Supreme Court and as attorney general.

He is married to Jorea Marple, the first women to serve as state superintendent of schools.

McGraw didn't return a call seeking comment about his 2012 run, but the chairman of the state Republican Party issued a statement.

"Over the course of his career, Darrell McGraw has single-handedly damaged the state to a degree that cannot be paralleled by any other person in modern West Virginia history," Mike Stuart said. "Jobs and the economy have both suffered from the extremely damaging reputation he has earned for West Virginia.

"Darrell McGraw is an example of the type of politician that gives public servants a bad name. He has done enough harm to our state and to working families, and it's time he retire or be fired. We simply cannot afford four more years of an attorney general that has earned the reputation of being one of the worst attorney generals in the country.

"We can do far better. It is time for a more honorable occupant of such an important office."

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