CHARLESTON – Current state Supreme Court Justice Robin Davis and attorney Tish Chafin will advance to November’s general election in the race for two open court seats.
Davis drew 28 percent of the vote in a six-way Democratic primary, while Chafin earned 27 percent, according to MetroNews.
Circuit Judge Jim Rowe was in third with 20 percent.
Davis and Chafin will face Republicans Allen Loughry, a Supreme Court law clerk, and John Yoder, a circuit judge.
Davis has been on the court since 1996. Chafin and husband Truman, a member of the state Senate, have a law practice in Williamson.
Davis and Chafin raised more money than any other candidates. The other three were Circuit Judge J.D. Beane, Supreme Court law clerk Louis Palmer and New Martinsville attorney H. John “Buck” Rogers.
“I want to thank the voters who have placed such trust in my record on the Court,” Davis said Tuesday evening from her home, where she followed the results. “I consider each vote cast in my favor as a charge to continue to uphold the Constitution and render decisions that are fair, balanced and in accord with the rule of law.
“I wish to congratulate those who shared the Democratic ticket with me; the voters of West Virginia had a number of fine candidates from which to choose, and each is to be commended for heeding the call to public service.
“Finally, I look forward to a vigorous campaign of ideas going into the fall, a campaign worthy of the office to which we aspire and of the state which we seek to represent. I look forward to continuing to talk with my fellow West Virginians about the good work the Court is doing and how my 15 years of experience and leadership will contribute to continued progress.”
Chafin’s campaign celebrated in downtown Charleston at the Embassy Suites hotel.
“I am filled with so many emotions right now that it is almost impossible to describe,” she said during her victory speech. “But mostly, I am humbled. Humbled by your faith in me. Humbled by the chance to get one step closer to serving on the state’s highest court.
“This is a victory that was earned with hard work and good ideas. Over the last two years, I have spent a great deal of time traveling the state, talking with people about our judicial system.
“We’re going to have a little fun tonight, but it’s back to work on the campaign trail tomorrow. Well, maybe after I plant some flowers.
“I plan to continue to travel the state and listen to the concerns and issues that people express about our court system. This experience has enriched me as a person and I am sure it will enrich me as a jurist.”
Rowe, his family, friends and campaign staff gathered at their Charleston headquarters before the judge had to leave to prepare for cases Wednesday morning in Pocahontas County.
“There is nothing we could have done differently,” he said. “It just came down to a matter of money. We probably raised more money individually than any of the other campaigns, but we still didn’t have enough to get our message out like the others did.
“We spent about $60,000 or so on media versus about a half a million by other candidates. It boils down to TV, TV, TV.
“We worked very, very hard. We had a lot of dedicated volunteers who worked for us. But this doesn’t bode well for individuals who spent a career in the public arena as public servants who want to reach the highest court in the state. I guess it’s just a fact of life these days.”
Beane watched the results from Parkersburg.
“I’m happy for Justice Davis, and I wish Tish Chafin well,” Beane said late Tuesday. “Everyone ran a good campaign. I learned a lot. It’s a lot different than running locally. It’s about getting your name out there. But this is by no means an end for me.
“If I do this again, I’ll get in the campaign earlier. I’ll build on what I’ve done this time around. I feel like I accomplished a lot.”
In the race for state Attorney General, Democratic incumbent Darrell McGraw and Republican challenger Patrick Morrisey both were unopposed in Tuesday’s primary. They’ll square off in November.