THE attorney general is one of the most powerful elected officials in the state. Darrell McGraw has occupied that position for 20 long years.
McGraw has turned the office into a "a mass tort trial lawyers firm," as his 2008 opponent, Dan Greear, put it. This colors the state's legal climate.
Further, McGraw has shamelessly used the office to promote his name recognition among voters.
Critics abound. In July 2010, Hans Bader, counsel for special projects at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, ranked McGraw among the six worst attorneys general in the nation.
"Darrell McGraw, attorney general of West Virginia since January 1993, has violated the most basic duty of his office, to defend the state in court," Bader wrote. "In 1996, he brought a lawsuit against state agencies that was settled at a cost to taxpayers of more than $2 million, all of which was pocketed by the trial lawyer whom McGraw hired to bring the suit."
Enough. West Virginians deserve better.
The Daily Mail endorses Republican Patrick Morrisey for attorney general. He would pursue ethics reform, institute competitive bidding for outside counsel, return all settlement money to the state, and be aggressive in challenging overreaching federal regulation. He is experienced in health care law, which could be helpful.
As a congressional committee lawyer, Morrisey helped draft the Bioterrorism and Public Health Preparedness Act of 2002 as well as the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003.
In 1999, Morrisey became counsel to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and later its chief counsel and ultimately deputy staff director, working on energy, consumer protection and environmental policy.
In 2004, Morrisey became a partner at Sidley Austin LLP, the 12th largest law firm in the world, and in 2010, Morrisey joined King & Spaulding, another global law firm, as a partner and co-chairman of its health and life science practice. He left the firm in June after his nomination for attorney general.
In short, Morrisey is an experienced lawyer who would run a better office in many ways. He does not like what he sees in the attorney general's office and he could change it.
It would be a most welcome change.