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Harpers Ferry lawyer makes history with election as W.Va. attorney general

November 07, 2012|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthew.umstead@herald-mail.com
  • Patrick Morrisey
Patrick Morrisey

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — By denying West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw a sixth term in Tuesday’s election, Patrick Morrisey became the first Eastern Panhandle resident in state history to win an elected office on the Board of Public Works, according to the state archives.
 
Morrisey of Harpers Ferry, W.Va., finished ahead of McGraw by about 13,000 votes, which was about the same margin of victory that McGraw’s Republican challenger received from voters in Berkeley and Jefferson counties combined, according to unofficial results.

“With your help, West Virginia made a significant change tonight that was long overdue,” Morrisey said in a statement Tuesday night.

“I’m honored and humbled to have been chosen as your next Attorney General, and promise that I will carry out the duties of that office in an honorable and effective manner,” he said.

Only two previous attorneys general — both from Hampshire County in the 1870s — have come from eastern West Virginia since Ohio County Republican Aquilla B. Caldwell served as the state’s first chief legal officer in 1863, according to the state archives.

Morrisey practiced law in Washington, D.C., and was also a GOP staffer and committee lawyer on Capitol Hill before running for office, according to published reports. He previously ran for Congress in New Jersey.

Before Morrisey’s win Tuesday, no other Eastern Panhandle resident has ever won any of the six elected state constitutional offices on the Board of Public Works, which also includes the governor, secretary of state, auditor, treasurer and commissioner of agriculture, according to the state archives.

Emanuel Willis Wilson, who was born in Harpers Ferry when it was still a part of Virginia, was elected West Virginia's governor in 1884 after he moved to Kanawha County, according to the state archives.

In the two other statewide races involving Republican candidates from the Eastern Panhandle, 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge John C. Yoder of Harpers Ferry, and former Del. Larry V. Faircloth of Inwood, W.Va., both fell short in their races for the state Supreme Court of Appeals and auditor, respectively.

Yoder, who finished third out of four Supreme Court candidates vying for two seats, would have been only the third justice from the Eastern Panhandle since Thomas C. Green and Daniel B. Lucas, both of Jefferson County, served on the high court bench in the late 1800s, according to the state archive. Green served from 1876-89 and Lucas served from 1890-92.

Faircloth received about 42 percent of the vote statewide in his unsuccessful bid to oust longtime Democratic incumbent Glen B. Gainer III, but received strong support in the Eastern Panhandle, winning all three counties, according to unofficial results. Gainer was first elected in 1992.

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Editor's note: This story was edited Nov. 8, 2012, to correct an inaccurate headline and clarify the paragraph about former Gov. Emanuel Willis Wilson.

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