Patrick Morrisey Files For 3rd Term As Attorney General

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is shown Thursday, March 3, 2016, at the state Capitol in Charleston, W.Va.

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey filed for reelection Tuesday, highlighting his work on the opioid crisis, church sex abuse and opposition to the Affordable Care Act.

Morrisey, a Republican, formally turned in his 2020 candidacy paperwork with a gaggle of GOP lawmakers at the secretary of state’s office. He framed his bid for a third term as a way to handle “unfinished business.”

“The opioid epidemic is devastating for our state. That will be a top priority. We must continue to target the root causes of this problem with everything in our arsenal,” Morrisey said.

As the state’s top prosecutor, Morrisey has overseen multiple lawsuits against opioid makers that have led to about $84 million in settlements to the state, including a $37 million deal with the drug distributor McKesson. Some, including U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, have criticized the settlement with McKesson with as insufficient.

Morrisey also sued the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, accusing it of knowingly employing pedophiles, in a case brought under the state’s consumer protection act, which several attorneys said was a first-of-its kind move. He suffered a setback in the case late last year, when a circuit judge dismissed the suit until the state Supreme Court decides whether it violates rules about the separation of church and state. Morrisey said he expects a hearing in the spring.

He was elected as the state’s top prosecutor in 2012 and won a second term in 2016. In 2018, he lost a U.S. Senate race against Manchin by just about 3 percent after President Donald Trump rallied behind Morrisey.

Morrisey has drawn fire statewide for his legal opposition to the Affordable Care Act and this year proposed, along with Republican leaders, a bill to cover preexisting condition health care costs if the Affordable Care Act is struck down.

Democrats Del. Isaac Sponaugle and labor lawyer Sam Brown Petsonk have also recently filed to run for attorney general. Both have been critical of Morrisey’s legal opposition to the Affordable Care Act, with Sponaugle previously calling the attorney general’s position “outrageous” and Petsonk saying  that “losing those Medicaid-backed services would set us back years in the fight against the opioid crisis.”