"It's a many, many month process," said Morrisey. "I started the process a long time ago."
Morrisey called McGraw's criticism a "sideshow" and alleged that McGraw's subordinates oversee the day-to-day operations of the attorney general's office.
"I'm a regulatory lawyer," Morrisey said. "He spends all his time spending millions of dollars of taxpayers' money, and he doesn't even run his own office."
Republican Party Chairman Conrad Lucas said voters should elect the candidate who's most qualified to be West Virginia's attorney general, not who's lived in the state the longest.
"It's rare that West Virginians have the opportunity to vote for someone as highly qualified as Patrick Morrisey," Lucas said. "With Darrell McGraw, who endorsed Barack Obama, we have someone whose character and values don't match West Virginia's."
In press releases, the McGraw campaign has skewered Morrisey's past work with "high-powered" Washington law firms that represent the pharmaceutical and tobacco industries -- companies that the West Virginia attorney general's office is supposed to regulate.
McGraw has spent much of his career fighting against big corporations and for consumers, his supporters say.
"Patrick Morrisey's ambition is to protect the entities that have been paying his tab," Mitchell said, "the same entities Darrell McGraw is fighting against."
Puccio and Mitchell also reiterated Monday that Morrisey finished fourth out of four candidates the last time he ran for public office -- a 2000 congressional Republican primary race in New Jersey.
"He lost an election in New Jersey, and now he's attempting to [run again] in West Virginia," Puccio said. "I think the people of West Virginia deserve more than someone using us as an alternative if all else fails. We just don't want to be a playground for the rich in our elected offices."
Morrisey said McGraw's campaign wants to distract the public's attention from allegations about misconduct in the attorney general's office. Morrisey alleged that McGraw has used his taxpayer-funded office to get re-elected, passing out trinkets and spending $300,000 on radio ads this year.
"Darrell McGraw's wrongdoing and shameless self-promotion is overwhelming," Morrisey said. "It's outrageous for McGraw to spend this taxpayer money on his re-election campaign."
Reach Eric Eyre at erice...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4869.