CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- On the day Republican attorney general candidate Patrick Morrisey cast his early ballot in Jefferson County, incumbent Darrell McGraw's campaign renewed its attack on Morrisey's short-term connection to West Virginia.
Democratic Party Chairman Larry Puccio said Monday that Morrisey, a New Jersey native, didn't become a West Virginia resident until about five years ago, and that Morrisey's wife, Denise Henry Morrisey, is registered to vote in Virginia.
"His wife will not be voting for her own husband," Puccio said. "If she doesn't even vote for him, why should we?"
Morrisey responded that recent personal attacks against his wife and family were a "low blow." He said McGraw would stop at nothing to get re-elected.
"We've been slowly climbing, and we're now even in the polls," Morrissey said Monday. "They're desperately trying to drag me through the mud a week before Election Day because they're about to lose."
McGraw's campaign issued a press release last week that questioned Morrissey's West Virginia residency, noting that his wife was registered to vote in Alexandria, Va., and his teenage stepdaughter attends school there.
"It's a very low blow for Darrell McGraw to attack my wife and stepdaughter and bring them into this campaign," Morrisey said. "It shows just how desperate he is, and how he's losing this race. To bring a family into this is not the kind of politics West Virginians deserve."
The press release also alleges Morrisey's house in Harpers Ferry is a "summer home," implying that Morrisey and his wife live elsewhere.
Morrisey said Monday that he bought the house in Jefferson County in 2006 -- two years before he got married. He said the Harpers Ferry home is his full-time residence, and he's been writing guest columns for local newspapers ever since moving to Jefferson County.
"I've been very active in the community," Morrisey said. "It's not like I've been hiding."
The McGraw campaign also has repeatedly assailed Morrisey, a lawyer, for getting admitted to the West Virginia Bar only four days before he filed to run for attorney general on the GOP ticket. Morrisey has never practiced law in West Virginia, or appeared in a West Virginia courtroom.
"My understanding is he's never tried a case in West Virginia," Puccio said.
Morrisey also is licensed to practice law in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia.
"For all we know, he's never pried open a West Virginia [state] code book," said John Mitchell Jr., McGraw's campaign manager.
Morrisey, who formerly worked for a corporate law firm in Washington, D.C., said he has represented West Virginia clients in the past.
He said he started the process of securing his West Virginia law license in the spring of 2011 -- months before deciding to run for attorney general.