CHARLESTON - Menis Ketchum's strong showing Tuesday night in the race for two open spots on the West Virginia Supreme Court even surprised him.

Ketchum beat out his two female competitors to earn a seat on the bench of the highest court in the state, grabbing 35 percent of the vote by the time 95 precincts had reported. The Huntington attorney had placed second in most pre-election polls.

"That's not too bad for a Wayne County boy, is it?" Ketchum said.

"I had no idea I'd lead the ballot. I've been campaigning nonstop since I announced. And evidently, hand-to-hand campaigning pays off.

"It indicates to me that all this time I've been on the road and away from home has paid off. It feels great."

Ketchum, a Democrat, said in a recent debate that he ran for the court because he felt the Supreme Court was hurting the business climate in the state.

"There has been, for some time, a murmuring among the lawyers that our Supreme Court favored certain lawyers, and if you wanted to win in the Supreme Court you better hire certain a certain lawyer, and that hurts the business climate in this state," he said.

Former justice Margaret Workman, another Democrat, apparently regained the spot she left eight years ago by outlasting Republican Beth Walker, an attorney with Bowles Rice McDavid Graff & Love. With 95 percent reporting, Workman led Walker by more than 7,000 votes.

In campaigning, Workman made it known that she feels the state's family courts system is not effective enough and hopes to change it.

The two spots were open because Chief Justice Spike Maynard lost to Ketchum and Workman in the May primary, and Justice Larry Starcher has decided to step down.

With 95 percent tallied, Ketchum had received 340,425 votes, Workman had 320,269 and Walker had 313,045.

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