CHARLESTON – Former Justice Margaret Workman and Huntington attorney Menis Ketchum earned the two Democratic nods Tuesday for seats on the state Supreme Court, relegating current Chief Justice Spike Maynard to third place.
While the eyes of the nation were on West Virginia to watch Hillary Clinton's convincing victory over Barack Obama in the Democratic presidential primary, many people in the state were focused on the high-profile Supreme Court race.
At the end of the night, Workman had 36 percent of the vote and Ketchum 27 percent. Maynard had 19 percent, trailed by West Virginia University law professor Bob Bastress at 18 percent.
Maynard was seeking a second 12-year term on the Court, but photos that surfaced earlier this year showing him in Monaco in 2006 with Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship had drawn criticism.
"I first want to thank my family, my friends and my supporters who worked so hard everyday during my campaign," Maynard said in a statement Tuesday evening. "The results are mostly now in, the voters have spoken and it appears we've lost the race.
"I want to thank the people of West Virginia for allowing me the great privilege and honor of serving them as a judge and justice for nearly 28 years."
Workman, meanwhile, is seeking a return to a position she held for 11 years.
"It's been a lot of hard work, but I have felt good about it from the word go," Workman said Tuesday evening as her victory margin widened. "I want to get the Supreme Court back to fighting about issues instead of personalities and politics."
Workman opted not to discuss the final results of the election.
"I never try to outguess the voters," she said. "I'm just happy that they've supported me thus far. But I do think they want our Supreme Court to be above all of this political fray."
Workman said she planned to take a break for a few days after the primary before hitting the campaign trail again.
"I'll write some thank you notes and make some calls," she said. "Then we'll get back to work."
Ketchum said he was surprised at the vote margin between himself and Maynard.
"I'm just elated," Ketchum said from his Huntington home. "I was sure Margaret would be first, but I think we all thought it would be closer for second in the race."
Ketchum agreed with Workman about voter sentiment concerning the Court.
"I think that for the last year or six months or so, people have been paying attention and have lost confidence in our Supreme Court."
Ketchum said he was ready to start another long campaign.
"I'll be traveling around the state thanking supporters," he said of his post-primary plans. "Because before I filed, we did a poll in December. It showed I had 6 percent name recognition. We had people in each county, and now I'm on the general election ballot. That shows all of the hard work my supporters have done."
Charleston attorney Beth Walker was the lone Republican on the Supreme Court ballot and will face Workman and Ketchum in the fall for the two open seats.
Shortly after the polls closed Tuesday, Walker addressed her supporters at an event at the Charleston Town Center Marriott.
"Tonight, we are celebrating a victory," she said.
She also mentioned the familiar ideas of fairness, impartiality and integrity.
"We'd all be in better shape if our Supreme Court was a lot less about politics and a lot more about the rule of law," Walker said. "Judges should be humbled by their role in law, not empowered by it.
"Tomorrow will begin a lot of hard work until Nov. 4. Now, I'm going to go out there and convince West Virginians that I'm the best candidate for the job. I look forward to it."