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Morrisey declares victory over Reynolds in Attorney General race

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Incumbent Attorney General Patrick Morrisey declared victory over state Delegate Doug Reynolds.

In a victory speech at Embassy Suites, Morrisey said he looks forward to working with newly-elected governor Jim Justice, a Democrat. He also said he won an uphill battle against critical press coverage and a barrage of attack ads.

The acrimony and spending in this race were notable.

Reynolds, a businessman and state delegate from Wayne County, pumped at least $3 million of his family’s money into the race.

Morrisey received support from the Republican Attorney General’s Association, which poured up to $6.4 million into advertisements through its political action committee.

That led to continual mud-slinging through advertisements, with Reynolds saying Morrisey has conflicts in his office’s lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies because he had been a Washington, D.C., lobbyist for firms that represent some of those companies.

Morrisey took particular offense at Reynolds ads that took note of his wife’s position as a D.C. lobbyist for a firm that represents Cardinal Health, one of the defendants.

Morrisey, in turn, blasted Reynolds for using his family’s wealth for the campaign. He also charged that Reynolds had not recently worked as an attorney, a factor he claimed would be crucial for running the Attorney General’s office.

Morrisey also tried to tie Reynolds to the campaign of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who is particularly unpopular in West Virginia because of her support for the Clean Power Plan. Reynolds said he wouldn’t be voting for Clinton – or for Donald Trump.

On major matters of official policy, the two weren’t that far apart. Both Morrisey and Reynolds said they would fight federal clean air regulations and the Environmental Protection Agency. Both said they would use the power of the office to fight West Virginia’s opioid epidemic.

Attorney General serves as the chief legal advisor for West Virginia’s state government.

Morrisey took office in 2013 after defeating then-incumbent Darrell McGraw, who had served as attorney general for the previous decade.

The position of Attorney General pays $95,000 a year in West Virginia.