Elections, Government, State Government

Sen. Ryan Weld, now candidate for attorney general, talks with The Dominion Post during Morgantown campaign stop

MORGANTOWN — State Sen. Ryan Weld came to Morgantown on Tuesday, a day after announcing his candidacy for state attorney general, and took some time to talk with The Dominion Post about his campaign.

Weld, R-Brooke, was re-elected to the Senate in 2020 and serves as Judiciary vice chair and majority whip. His term will end at the end of 2024 and he explained why he chose a new path.

“Over the last couple of years I’ve gotten the opportunity to travel around the state more and more,” he said, and he started to feel a strong drive to help the whole state beyond just his Senate district.

“I really started to feel a stronger determination to want to give more back to the state that I owe so much to,” he said. “It’s a job that I can do to help more West Virginians, to help this state more.”

Weld and his wife, Alex, live in Wellsburg. Born and raised in West Virginia, he spent some time away to serve in Air Force intelligence in Afghanistan before returning home. He met Alex on the day he came back, in July 2011. They married in 2015 and settled close to where they grew up.

An attorney with Spilman, Thomas & Battle, he said he does some litigation, estate planning and real estate law. He previously served as an assistant prosecutor in Brook County and loved that job, and practicing criminal law.

“That’s where I really realized the true depth of the drug crisis in our state,” he said. He related a story of the positive effects of his work there.

While recently at a Wheeling campaign event for a candidate for a different office, a woman approached him and asked if he recognized her.

He didn’t and she told him he’d prosecuted her, but that he shouldn’t be sorry about it. “I was a one-woman wrecking crew,” she told him. Now, she’s been clean for three years, working, and has her child back.”

Weld said, “That meant a lot to me.”

That led him to his decision to run for Attorney General, he said. Current Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is campaigning to succeed Gov. Jim Justice.

“Can you imagine any greater honor as a lawyer and a West Virginian than to serve as legal counsel to the state that you love?” Weld said.

The attorney general, he explained, defends challenges against state laws and fights federal overreach. “There seems to be a lot of regulation, a lot of statutory law coming out of D.C. that just isn’t helping West Virginia. D.C. shouldn’t be the entity that is dictating West Virginia’s future. West Virginia should be dictating its own future.”

During his time in the Senate, he said, West Virginia has started changing for the better — seeing new economic development and net gains in people migrating here.

“I think that it’s very important that we have an attorney general that has been a part of that change.”

The AG also oversees consumer protection; he cited the examples of medical providers preying on seniors, Medicaid fraud and scam protection. “I think it’s a huge part of what the office does.”

He has a vision for a new, expanded role for the office, he said. Cities face the problem of abandoned and dilapidated properties and many lack the legal resources to deal with them — to find the owners and hold them accountable.

He envisions the AG’s office being the hub for those cities to go to for legal assistance to get that done. “I think that the change in our landscape, in our cities, would be undeniable.” Whether that would be best accomplished through legislation, or already lies within the current scope of powers of the office, is something he wants to explore further.

It’s been reported that fellow Sen. Mike Stuart, R-Kanawha and a former U.S. Attorney, is also eyeing a run for the office. Asked about possible negative campaigning, Weld cited Ronald Reagan’s 11th Commandment: “Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.” Weld said he’ll run a professional campaign.

For now, he said, he’s traveling the state, raising his visibility and making himself better known outside his district.

“I made a promise to the people of West Virginia,” he said. “No one is going to work harder to gain their trust and their vote.”

TWEET David Beard @dbeardtdp

EMAIL dbeard@dominionpost.com