CHARLESTON – Even though there are no announced opponents, one political website that covers state and local governments is calling the 2012 race for West Virginia Attorney General a tossup.
On the website for Governing magazine, writer Louis Jacobson says the effect President Obama will have on the Democratic ticket in West Virginia is the biggest question regarding Darrell McGraw's drive for a sixth consecutive term as AG.
"Though West Virginia has been home to a series of bruising business versus labor races in recent years, the AG race has been slow to develop, perhaps because a 2011 special election for governor is scheduled first," Jacobson wrote. "Five-term incumbent Darrell McGraw, a populist staunchly opposed by business leaders, has filed papers to run for a sixth term.
"So far, the GOP opposition is unclear. This contest would merit at least a lean Democratic rating were it not for the question of how much of a drag President Obama will be further down the ballot."
No one else has filed to run for the position yet on either the Republican or Democrat side.
Right now, there are 25 Democratic state AGs and 25 Republican AGs. Before the 2010 election cycle, Democrats held a 32-18 advantage.
"The rapid erosion of Democratic control of state AG offices is an ominous development for the party, since it robs the party of a meaty policy office and a key job for building an in-state farm team for higher office," Jacobson wrote.
Other tossup races for 2011 and 2012 are Montana, Washington state and Pennsylvania. Like West Virginia, Montana currently has a Democrat AG. Washington and Pennsylvania have Republican AGs.
Jacobson says two other current Democratic AG seats – Kentucky and Missouri – are leaning Democratic. And seven races look strong for the incumbent party – Utah, Indiana and Louisiana for the Republicans, and Mississippi, North Carolina, Oregon and Vermont for the Democrats.
"With Buddy Caldwell's party switch from Democrat to Republican in Louisiana, the race is now safe for Republicans," Jacobson wrote. "And in Mississippi, the GOP opponent to long-serving Democratic AG Jim Hood has yet to demonstrate a strong likelihood of an upset."