Editor's Note: In the coming weeks, The West Virginia Record will profile candidates in this year's election for the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals and for state Attorney General.
CHARLESTON – Allen Loughry's resume for the state Supreme Court is impressive.
The Tucker County native has four law degrees. He's worked in all three branches of government, including the last nine years as a judicial law clerk at the state Supreme Court. He also wrote a book detailing West Virginia's history of political corruption titled "Don't Buy Another Vote, I Won't Pay for a Landslide."
And Loughry, who is running as one of two Republicans for two open seats, says that his message is resonating on the campaign trail.
"The campaign is going extremely well," he said Wednesday. "By the end of March, I will have campaigned in more than 40 counties. I've traveled to all 55 counties on numerous occasions though my work with the governor's office, for the congressman, for the attorney general's office and also when talking to people about my book."
"I'm campaigning hard. I'm putting a lot of very positive energy out there. I'm running for the office because I believe I can be a positive addition to the West Virginia judicial system for the state's future."
He said he always tells people on the campaign trail that he is a proud West Virginia native – he grew up just outside of Parsons – and is a family man. He and his wife Kelly have a young son named Justus.
And he notes his government experience, too.
"I tell them that I have worked for all three branches of government," he said. "But I also tell them that it is my strong opinion that the Judiciary is a separate and independent branch of government. And that we should have three branches of government, not the executive branch, the legislative branch and a super Legislature.
Loughry said he hears and understands the concerns of people who are "very frustrated, disappointed, jaded, let down, somewhat helpless" about government in general, not just about the judiciary.
"They're frustrated with problems in all of government," he said. "And when a story like the vote-buying in Lincoln County comes out, it's just one more string on a big ball of yarn. People continue to have a lack of trust.
"A lot of Democrats, Independents and Republicans are ready for positive changes in West Virginia. A lot of people from all political backgrounds are ready give Republicans a chance. After 80 years of control by one party, I believe it's going to be a very good year for Republicans."
He said he wants to be part of that change. And he's eager to get started, if elected.
"I promise I will decide cases fairly upon the law and the Constitution," Loughry said. "That's what a judge should do."
Loughry said he has spoken at length about supporting an intermediate appellate court for West Virginia.
"I tell people I've been in favor of that since before it was popular to be in favor of such a court," he said. "I was the only one on Hoppy Kercheval's candidate forum to speak in favor of an intermediate appellate court."
But, he said he knows most people just want to "get a sense of who you are" on the campaign trail.
"They want to size you up," he said. "They want to know if you're family oriented. They try to judge you and determine if you're somebody they can trust.
"Listen, I understand. The bottom line is that two justices will be elected in 2012. And there are only five justices on the state Supreme Court. So the selection of these justices can result in a seismic shift in practically every case that comes before the court in the next decade or so."
As for his four law degrees (four separate degrees from American University's Washington College of Law, the University of London, and Capital University School of Law. He also studied law at Oxford University in England), Loughry often jokes that he wanted to see how far in debt he could go.
"But I also point out that when I was getting three of them, I was working full-time as a practicing attorney," he said. "I've never been a full-time student. I think it's important to always want to continue to learn.
"I've been very fortunate to have some incredible experiences. My dad was in construction. My mom worked at a shoe factory. We were an average West Virginia family.
"When I went to WVU, I worked road construction, building construction, as a journalist and a lot of different things to pay the bills. I'm pretty sure I'm the only Supreme Court candidate driving a 1996 Jeep with no heat or air conditioning. I can definitely relate to the average person in West Virginia."
He said his book is a frequent topic on the campaign trail, too.
"It makes me feel really good, but it also means that a lot of people are now starting to put the face with the name. Last night, I was at a campaign event. Twelve people were there, and three of them came with their copy of my book because they wanted me to sign it."
His book has forewords written by late U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd and current Senator John McCain, and it received positive testimonials from former Gov. Gaston Caperton, American University Law Professor and author Jamie Raskin and Washington Monthly Editor Charlie Peters.
"It just demonstrates I can work with people from all backgrounds and write something not politically slanted," Loughry said. "I'm a conservative person, but when it comes to corruption, doesn't matter what you're party affiliated with. If you're corrupt, you should be held accountable."
He wants his run to be an inspiration to others as well.
"I'm just an average guy from West Virginia who believes that the average kid who grows up in any part of this state should still be able to participate in the state's political system," Loughry said. "The West Virginia Supreme Court is not something you can purchase like you're going to Kroger and buying a bar of soap. The largest contribution to my campaign will be $100. I'm not owned by anybody.
"I just want to go in there and do this amazing thing: my job."
Loughry and current Circuit Judge John Yoder are the two Republicans running for the two open seats.
Chafin is one of six Democratic candidates seeking two spots in this spring's primary. Democrats running are current Justice Robin Jean Davis, circuit judges J.D. Beane and Jim Rowe, current Supreme Court law clerk Louis Palmer, Williamson attorney Tish Chafin and New Martinsville attorney H. John "Buck" Rogers.
The primary election is May 8, and the general election is Nov. 6.