CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Legal Newsline) - For his first foray into campaigning, Patrick Morrisey is leaving no stone unturned.
"The campaign is going very well," said Morrisey, a Republican running for West Virginia Attorney General. "We're focusing on introducing our candidacy around the state. We've been to most of the counties. We're not leaving any part of the state behind."
Morrisey had no primary opponent into Tuesday's election, but he will face incumbent Darrell McGraw in the fall.
"We're talking about the issues people in West Virginia care about," Morrisey said. "The EPA, repealing the individual mandate in Obamacre, Medicaid, ethics reform. Our message really resonates with voters, I think.
"There is a clear difference of opinion between me and the incumbent, and the voters will know where we stand."
Morrisey said a lot of work goes into putting together a statewide campaign.
"We have a plan, and we're sticking to it," he said. "But it's not easy. It takes an awful lot of work, but we are enjoying it, too."
Morrisey said he is a "big believer" in voters need to know where candidates stand on the issues. In a press conference formally announcing his candidacy at the state Capitol a few months ago, Morrisey said he would call on McGraw to debate in each of the state's 55 counties.
"Voters deserve a debate," he said. "It's important that people are held accountable for their positions. I'm willing to put myself out there. I'm willing to debate. We'll see if the incumbent is, as well."
Morrisey said he's getting good feedback on the campaign trail.
"Our message is resonating because voters are beginning to realize the Attorney General's office could be a real powerful force for good against the federal government's efforts to shut down businesses in our state," Morrisey said. "Voters also are responding to our positive platform of ethics reform in West Virginia and to our positions on health care.
"It's a slow but steady pace, and we're making progress. We're getting better known, and we're doing it without taxpayer-funded commercials the incumbent has at his disposal."
Morrisey said the issues he hears most about on the trail are doing something to reign in the EPA, joining the 26-state lawsuit to repeal Obamacare and the individual mandate and about the presidential race.
"I'm pretty passionate about what we need to do in southern West Virginia to turn some of those counties around," Morrisey said. "The incumbent hasn't done much to bring jobs to the area. He should be challenging the EPA. If the state were more aggressive challenging the EPA, we would have more jobs. That message is going to resonate around the state.
"And, there are lots of questions about where the candidates stand on the presidential race. Now that primary is winding down, our nominee is known. People are more focusing on how the Obama-Romney race will shape up.
"Voters deserve to know where candidates stand on the issues and who they will endorse for President. I will vote for our nominee, Mitt Romney, and will stand against the President's policies that are crippling our state. Where does Darrell McGraw stand on his choice for President? Will we need to wait until our series of debates before we learn the answer to that question?"
Calls to McGraw's office seeking comment were not returned.
For now, Morrisey is enjoying meeting people across the state.
"West Virginia is a beautiful state, and it has so much to offer," Morrisey said. "There's an awful lot that is right about West Virginia. But what motivates me is that the Attorney General can take proactive steps to make the state an even better place to live. We can take on some regulatory policies to make it better to operate in the state.
"I'm optimistic about the people in West Virginia. The thing that strikes me so much about West Virginians is that they are true to their state motto 'Mountainers are always free.' They look to elected officials to make that a creed. We will, and people are reacting to that. We have a proud, free people. People respond positively to the message.
"Still, you can't help but be moved by what's going on in southern West Virginia. We have to attack poverty in the state. But we have to do it by luring businesses in to the state of West Virginia and making West Virginia even more conducive to locating here. That's only one part of many issues that need to be addressed. I get very passionate about what we can do to help people of West Virginia."
And Morrisey said he's having fun on the campaign.
"It's been so enjoyable to drive to every corner of the state," he said. "It really has. We have such a great state. I'm looking forward to the next six months and having a chance to listen to West Virginians about issues they care about most, to debating the incumbent and conduct a political campaign to make West Virginians proud."
Morrisey, a health care lawyer with the Washington, D.C. firm of King & Spalding, says he would bring "a new perspective to efforts to repeal Obamacare, curb federal and state government over-regulation, provide competent counsel on Medicaid matters, and advance meaningful ethics reform."
Morrisey lives in Harpers Ferry. Originally from New Jersey, he earned a bachelor of arts, in history and political science, with honors, from Rutgers College in 1989 and a juris doctor from Rutgers Law School-Newark, in 1992. He is married and has a 14-year-old stepdaughter.
McGraw is seeking his sixth term as attorney general. A native of Wyoming County, McGraw served in the U.S. Army and later graduated from West Virginia University and WVU's College of Law. He later served on the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals before becoming AG in 1992. McGraw is married to Jorea Marple, the first woman to be named state Superintendent of Schools. He has four children and one grandson.
The primary election is May 8, and the general election is Nov. 6.