CHARLESTON - Four Democrats vying for a seat on the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals are leading in the race for money, according to recent campaign finance reports.
The four candidates -- J.D. Beane, Letitia "Tish" Chafin, Robin Davis and James "Jim" Rowe -- have each raised well over $50,000 so far, according to their first reports of the election cycle reporting period.
Davis, a sitting justice who was first elected to the state's high court in 1996 and re-elected in 2000, is leading the pack with $222,749.18 in total contributions. According to her first report, her campaign has a cash balance of $121,071.97
Chafin, the managing partner of the H. Truman Chafin Law Firm in Williamson with her husband, state Sen. Truman Chafin, is the only candidate to come close to Davis' numbers, with $142,168.69 in total contributions. Chafin also reported a cash balance of $957,828.88.
Rowe, a circuit judge, reported $97,457.38 in total contributions and $33,606.35 in cash-on-hand.
Beane, also a circuit judge, reported $76,347.20 in total contributions and a cash balance of $33,296.77.
Meanwhile, fellow Democrat Louis Palmer, a current Supreme Court law clerk, reported $6,893.73 in total contributions and just $826.25 in cash-on-hand.
The other Democratic candidate, New Martinsville attorney H. John "Buck" Rogers, reported $1,860 in total contributions and a cash balance of zero.
Of Davis' pot, $34,450 came from contributions of $250 or more, according to her first report.
Wheeling attorneys Robert P. Fitzsimmons, Robert J. Fitzsimmons II and Clayton Fitzsimmons, of Fitzsimmons Law, supported Davis' campaign, each donating $1,000.
A handful of attorneys at Pittsburgh-based law firm Goldberg, Persky and White PC also contributed to the justice's re-election, donating $1,000 each.
According to Davis' first report, the American Federation of Teachers donated $1,000 and labor unions West Virginia State Building and Construction Trades and the West Virginian Region Council of Carpenters each donated $500.
A huge chunk of Davis' contributions came from two fundraising events, one in Huntington and another in Charleston.
At the Huntington event, held at the Pullman Plaza Hotel in January, Davis' campaign raised $76,750 in total contributions.
At the Charleston fundraiser, held at the Charleston Marriott Town Center in February, Davis raked in $83,605 in total contributions.
Of Chafin's $142,168.69, $45,900 came from contributions of $250 or more.
Among those most notable donors was Charleston attorney Carte Goodwin, who gave $1,000 to Chafin's campaign. Goodwin was appointed by former Gov. Joe Manchin to temporarily fill U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd's seat after he died in 2010. Manchin was eventually elected.
Other more notable donors included Harry Deitzler and Kent Carper, both partners at Charleston law firm Hill, Peterson, Carper, Bee and Deitzler. Deitzler donated $1,000, while Carper, who also serves as head of the Kanawha County Commission, gave $500.
A handful of unions also donated to Chafin's campaign, according to her first report.
They included the West Virginia Regional Council of Carpenters, $500; the United Mine Workers of America, $1,000; the American Federation of Teachers, $1,000; the West Virginia Appalachian Laborers District Council, $1,000; and the Building and Construction Trades, $500.
Chafin also raised $15,200 from a West Virginia Association of Justice conference reception, held at Embassy Suites in Charleston in February.
Another $20,800 came from an event held at Pullman Plaza in February.
At a kick-off fundraising event in June, in which she announced her candidacy, Chafin raised a total of $23,400, according to her report.
ROWE, BEANE, PALMER AND ROGERS
Rowe, who is closely behind Chafin with more than $97,000 in total contributions, received nearly all of his funds from donations of $250 or less -- $24,235 -- and donations of $250 or more -- $72,560.
Of those donations of $250 or more, CSX Corp. and Arch Coal each gave $1,000.
Beane received half of his contributions from a fundraising event in Parkersburg in December. At the fundraiser, his campaign raked in $39,425.
In March, he raised another $22,400 at an event held at the Parkersburg Country Club.
Most of Palmer's contributions -- $5,693.73 -- came from himself. Another $500 came from Thomas W. Rodd, an assistant attorney general. An additional $500 came from Franklin D. Cleckley, a law professor at West Virginia University's College of Law.
Rogers, who reported the lowest amount of contributions of all eight candidates, made two separate donations to his own campaign -- $1,360 and $500.
The two lone GOP candidates, circuit judge John Yoder and current Supreme Court law clerk Allen Loughry, reported substantially less than most of their Democratic opponents.
Yoder's campaign reported less than $10,000 in total contributions -- $8,518.36, to be exact -- and $6,588.43 in cash-on-hand.
Loughry's campaign reported more, with $62,050 in total contributions and a cash balance of $56,106.33.
Nearly all of Yoder's contributions came from those of $250 or more -- $5,500 -- and those $250 or less -- $2,905.
The most notable is a donation from Patrick Morrisey, the GOP candidate for attorney general.
According to Yoder's first report, Morrisey gave $1,000 to his campaign.
As for Loughry, most of his funds -- $36,345 -- came in the form of contributions of $250 or less.
The State Election Commission was Loughry's other big donor, giving $13,705 to his campaign.
Loughry, himself, also made some $1,000 donations to his own campaign.
Morrisey also donated to Loughry's campaign, as did Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Maloney and his wife Sharon. Republican U.S. Senate candidate John Raese donated to Loughry's campaign as well.
All eight candidates are running for two open seats on the Court.
West Virginia's primary election is May 8. The state's general election is Nov. 6.
Each campaign's next, or pre-primary, report is due April 23-27.