Ketchum, Workman earn seats on High Court

By Chris Dickerson | Nov 6, 2008

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. 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. "Seriously, 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, regained the spot she left eight years ago by outlasting Republican Beth Walker, an attorney with Bowles Rice McDavid Graff & Love.

Workman said she wasn't surprised Ketchum was the top vote-getter, noting both of her competitors hit the airwaves with television ads late in the campaign.

"I desperately tried to get people to help my campaign toward the end," she said Wednesday. "But people kept saying to me, 'You don't need my help.' And frankly, I was tired of putting my money into the campaign, tired of spending my kids' inheritance."

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

"I think everyone knows I have a good judicial record," Workman said Wednesday. "Ask the coal industry, ask Steve Roberts with the state Chamber. I have a fair record, and I've worked hard to maintain that."

Workman said her victory is proof that fairness is still a valuable trait for a judge.

"I don't owe anybody anything," she said. "I think the failure of the huge, obscene amounts of money that were pumped into this race at the end proves that a 'For Sale' sign is not on the West Virginia Supreme Court.

"West Virginians are smart people, and they didn't buy it."

Walker issued a statement Wednesday afternoon.

"While we did not ultimately succeed with voters, I am very proud of what we accomplished and thankful for the support I received across West Virginia," she said in the statement. "We ran a respectful, positive campaign with a clear message about the importance of fairness, impartiality and integrity in our courts.

"I sincerely congratulate Menis Ketchum and Margaret Workman on their success."

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.

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