McHugh ready for two more years

By Chris Dickerson | Oct 15, 2010


CHARLESTON – Campaigning for a statewide election isn't the same as it was 30 years ago.

Just ask Thomas McHugh.

"It takes a lot more out of you," said McHugh of the rigors traveling across the state. "I have been in all parts of the state -- northern Panhandle, eastern Panhandle, the southern part of the state ...

"And it's a lot different today than it was in 1980 when I last had a contested campaign. The older you get, the bigger this state seems to get.

"Still, I really appreciate all of the support and encouragement I've received."

For McHugh, the hardest part of campaigning is making time for everything.

"You can't get to every event, that's the bottom line," the 74-year-old Charleston native said. "I hate that. But you have to pick and choose.

"Plus, I still have my work here at the Supreme Court. You have to fit in all the time to campaign after you've done your job."

McHugh, a Democrat, is running for two more years on the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals. He was appointed in 2009 by Gov. Joe Manchin to fill the vacancy left by the death of Justice Joseph Albright.

Now, McHugh is running to finish out the final two years of that term. His opponent is Republican John Yoder, a former legislator and current circuit judge in the eastern Panhandle.

In an election year where rhetoric in a few West Virginia races has turned nasty, the Supreme Court race has stayed civil.

"There's no need to engage in snipping," McHugh said. "Neither of us have done that, and neither of us will do that. My campaign is centered on me, my family, my experience.

"I recently was a Kroger, and another customer came up to me and told me he appreciated that approach. It is refreshing to hear that."

McHugh said he just wants his campaign to focus on his history.

"I am proven," he said. "You can Google my name and find every opinion I've written or been involved in. There is nothing I can hide. I have to rely on my experience."

And, McHugh said he is keeping his work when he was appointed that he'll run only for the two years remaining on this unexpired term.

"I was asked to do this by the governor and members of this court," he said. "I accepted that, so now I am giving it everything I've got. But I will not run again in 2012."

McHugh is a 1958 graduate of West Virginia University and a 1964 Distinguished Military Graduate of the West Virginia University College of Law. In law school, he was a member of the Order of Coif, a legal honorary, and was associate editor of the West Virginia Law Review.

He served as a First Lieutenant in the United States Army from 1958 to1961. He was a law clerk to West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Harlan Calhoun from 1966 to 1968. He was elected as a Kanawha Circuit Judge in 1974, re-elected in 1976, and served as chief circuit judge from 1974 to 1980.

McHugh was first elected to the Supreme Court in 1980 and was re-elected to a second twelve-year term in 1992. He served as Chief Justice in 1984, 1998, 1992, 1995 and 1996. He retired on Dec. 31, 1997. After his retirement, he practiced law in the Charleston law firm of Allen Guthrie McHugh and Thomas.

McHugh was President of the West Virginia Judicial Association in 1981-1982. He is a former member of the Judicial Review Board of West Virginia and was a member of the Visiting Committee of the West Virginia University College of Law from 1991 to 1995, serving as Chairman of that Committee from 1994 to 1995. He was a member of the Dean Search Committee of the West Virginia University College of Law from 1991 to 1992 and from 1997 to 1998.

He is the recipient of the Mountain Honorary, Distinguished West Virginian Award, the 1996 Special Award of Achievement in the Administration of Justice from The West Virginia State Bar, the 1996 Public Service Award from the Mountain State Bar Association, a 1998 Certification of Completion of Mediation Training from Duke University Private Adjudication Center, the 1998 Outstanding Achievement Award from the Kanawha County Bar Association, the 1998 Justicia Officium Award from the West Virginia University College of Law. Justice McHugh is a West Virginia Bar Foundation Fellow; Emeritus Member, Judge John A. Field, Jr., American Inns of Court. He is a former member of the Board of Directors of the Children s Home Society of West Virginia. He is Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Thomas Memorial Hospital. He is a member of the Fourth Circuit Judicial Conference.

He and his wife, Judy, have four children, Karen, Cindy, James, and John; seven grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.

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