CHARLESTON -- The state Supreme Court will remain unchanged for two more years.
Sitting Justice Thomas McHugh pulled away from Republican challenger John Yoder on Tuesday to win the right to sit on the bench until 2012.
At 12:45 a.m. with all but one of the state's 1,876 precincts reporting, McHugh led by about 11,500 votes and had 51 percent of the vote.
"It was a race that we tried to keep civil, and we kept our word," McHugh said Tuesday night. "I'm really looking forward to serving the citizens of West Virginia another two years."
McHugh had been on the Court since last year when he was appointed by Gov. Joe Manchin to fill the seat vacated by the death of Justice Joseph Albright. In Tuesday election, he was running to finish out the final two years of Albright's 12-year term.
While disappointed in the loss, Yoder said he still was pleased with his showing.
"For me, it's an excellent result," said Yoder, who currently is a circuit judge in the eastern Panhandle. "It looks to me that I did a lot better than (U.S. Senate candidate) John Raese.
"I'm running against a very popular incumbent who outspent me 30-to-1. I always viewed this as a warm-up race for 2012."
McHugh said he is glad he can now return his focus to the work of the Court.
"The most important part of this has been working with the other members of the Supreme Court," McHugh said Tuesday. "The members of the Court really try to work together. Our primary focus is on our opinions. I really appreciate that."
McHugh also expressed gratitude to all of his supporters.
"I received support from a variety of groups, from the (state) Chamber to labor organizations," McHugh said. "It's just very gratifying. I am glad that I can fulfill two more years like I promised I would."
McHugh has said he will not run again in 2012. That year, the state will try a public financing plan for the supreme court elections. Read more about it here.
"I want to continue to work toward making the Supreme Court visible for its work, not for the individuals on the court," he said. "I just want to do the best job I can so that nobody fears the Court and that we have a reputation for fairness.
"I'm just glad it's over. I can again devote all of my time to the work of the Court."
Yoder already is planning to run for the same job in 2012 when two Supreme Court seats will be on the ballot.
"I thought this run would give me good exposure, and I won't be running against an incumbent next time," he said. "This is still is a very good showing. I'm pleased with the results."
Tucked away in the eastern Panhandle, Yoder didn't spent election night like a typical candidate. He planned on going to see a movie, but missed it.
"I ended up going to Border's and buying a couple of books to read," he said.