CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Republican attorney general candidate Patrick Morrisey sharpened his criticism of Democrat incumbent Attorney General Darrell McGraw on Wednesday with a radio ad titled, "Thy Name is Darrell, The King."
The ad steps up Morrisey's allegations that McGraw is using state resources to campaign for re-election.
The McGraw campaign strongly denied Morrisey's attack, which is premised on recent campaign finance filings that show McGraw is not spending any money on campaign staff.
The ad alleges, ". . . McGraw doesn't even spend a penny on campaign staff. That's because he relies on taxpayer money to campaign."
McGraw's campaign spokeswoman, Denise Tucker, denied that. She and everyone else on the campaign are volunteers, she said in a telephone interview.
"The campaign does exist, and it is not run out of the Capitol by any stretch of the imagination," Tucker said.
Tucker said the campaign has had better things to do than respond to press inquiries or return fire at Morrisey, whose campaign vigorously sends statements to the press and messages to Internet followers.
"Most of the press just wants to carry his water, and we've just got other things to do," Tucker said.
But for the first time this year, McGraw's campaign did respond to a Morrisey press release. The Morrisey press release on Tuesday made accusations similar to those found in the ad, which was released Wednesday.
Morrisey's campaign imagined a fake "Campaign Plan" for McGraw.
According to Morrisey, Step No. 1 included having the government pick and pay for "distributing campaign-style literature at fairs." Step No. 2 included avoiding spending any money on staff by using office staff.
But McGraw's campaign fired back.
"Traditionally, our state wide office holders go out to serve the public at fairs, festivals and parades, every year — not just in election years. That's what officials do in West Virginia. They bring efficient and accessible government directly to the people in their communities," a spokesman said in a press release.
West Virginia Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse, an industry-backed group that has long been a foe of McGraw, said state expense reports show McGraw's office has spent nearly $430,000 on radio and television ads this year.