CHARLESTON -- A Charleston attorney has become the first Republican to file papers to run for the state Supreme Court in 2008, while a Huntington attorney says he likely will become the fifth Democrat to do so.

Beth Walker, a labor and employment attorney in the Charleston office of Bowles Rice McDavid Graff & Love, filed as a Republican on Sept. 25, according to the West Virginia Secretary of State's office. She primarily represents businesses that have been sued for discrimination or on wage-and-hour issues.

Walker, who received her law degree in 1990 from the Ohio State University, is married to Mike Walker, executive vice president of Walker Machinery, a family-owned West Virginia company that sells and services industrial equipment.

Last week on MetroNews' TalkLine program, Walker told host Hoppy Kercheval that she believes the court historically has strayed too far to the left, damaging the ability of businesses to do business here.

She blames "judicial activism," telling Kercheval that it "stands in the way of progress, stands in the way of jobs, stands in the way of opportunity for everyone."

Huntington attorney Menis Ketchum soon could throw his hat into the Supreme Court race, too.

"I'm at the age of life where I really enjoy public service," Ketchum said. "I've been on Marshall Board of Governors since 2002.

"I just think, for a lawyer, to be on the Supreme Court is the highest honor and the greatest public service you can perform."
Ketchum, a senior partner with Greene Ketchum Bailey Walker Ferrell & Tweel, said he offers something none of the other announced candidates can.

"With the other candidates, you have two who are very liberal who more or less side with labor completely and you have two who solely side with business," he said. "Miss Walker said she's conservative. Well, extremes aren't good for neither business nor labor. They're not always right.

"The Court needs to be brought toward the middle where both sides will get a fair shake. Both sides want predictability. They want laws established where the Court doesn't overturn them and make new law."

Ketchum, who received his law degree from West Virginia University, said he soon will decide for sure about his run. His last run for public office was in 1964, when he ran for prosecuting attorney in Wayne County at the age of 24. He lost by 63 votes.

"I just want to get around and talk to everybody," he said. "I plan to talk to Democratic leaders, discuss it with the governor and the Speaker, the President of the Senate, the party chairman."

Others who have filed papers to run for two open Supreme Court seats all are Democrats. They are sitting Justice Spike Maynard, former Justice Margaret Workman, WVU Law Professor Bob Bastress and Charleston attorney Mike Allen.

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