Morrisey, Reynolds battle in impromptu debate on Capitol steps

By Chris Dickerson | Oct 19, 2016

CHARLESTON – It was dubbed the Battle at the Capitol and the Brawl on the Kanawha. Some wondered if the challenger would show.

But in the end, the two major party candidates running for West Virginia Attorney General squared off at high noon on Oct. 19 to debate the issues.

After weeks of back and forth between the campaigns trying to set up a formal debate, incumbent Republican Patrick Morrisey issued the challenge the day before to Democratic challenger Doug Reynolds to debate at high noon on the steps of the state Capitol overlooking the Kanawha River.

About 10 minutes before noon, Reynolds appeared. Morrisey came out soon after. After trying to set some quick ground rules, the candidates began with opening statements. And for the next 40 minutes or so, they answered questions from the media and from supporters and critics in the crowd of 100 in unseasonably warm temperatures.

While neither candidate said little that hasn’t already been said in the contentious campaign, each highlighted his experience, track record and plans while criticizing those of his opponent:

“Doug Reynolds represents a return to the past,” Morrisey said after saying he has helped shut down West Virginia’s “Good Ole Boy Network” of politics.

“Let’s face it, in the last four years, we have lost the battle with prescription drugs,” Reynolds said, referring to Morrisey’s first term.

“I can look him (Reynolds) in the eye and back up everything I say,” Morrisey said. “We have a record of accomplishment.”

“That guy right there (pointing to a man in the crowd with a video camera) has been following me and my family around since March,” Reynolds said. “He’s paid by the big pharmaceutical companies.”

“There is a clear choice in this election,” Morrisey said. “I’m an attorney general with a strong conservative record. I took on the EPA all the way to the United States Supreme Court, and I beat them.”

“Look at the records of the candidates,” Reynolds told the crowd. “Vote for who you think will best represent you, not special interests.”

After the debate, both candidates were pleased with how it happened.

“It was a good exercise,” Reynolds said. “Our democracy would be much better if things like this happened more often.

“We have been trying to schedule a debate. He issued the challenge Tuesday, and we had said we’d debate any time, any place. So we decided to come here and figure it out after we got here.”

Morrisey agreed.

“People have a clear choice to make in this race,” he said. “This was a good opportunity for people to hear the two candidates to see the differences between us.

“I think we were able to define our campaign. We put our record out there, and we highlighted the differences from our opponent.”

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