Beane loves life on campaign trail

By Chris Dickerson | May 4, 2012


Editor's Note: In the coming weeks, The West Virginia Record will profile candidates in this year's election for the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals and for state Attorney General.

PARKERSBURG – Running a statewide campaign in West Virginia can be a grueling ordeal, but state Supreme Court candidate J.D. Beane says he has loved the experience.

"It's a challenge," said Beane, a circuit judge in Wood and Wirt counties. "It's such a big state. But I've met people and made friends that I otherwise wouldn't have got to meet. I consider that a win regardless of the numbers. I hope to build on the work I've done."

"It's been enjoyable. It's been very rewarding."

Beane said the biggest problem of running a statewide campaign is juggling all of the travel with his workload on the bench.

"But, fortunately, I love what I do," he said. "There are times that aren't most enjoyable with some of the cases and some of the issues involved. But, I'm four years in and thoroughly love my job.

"But the travel for the campaign has been a challenge. I like it, but it's a lot. When I have a meeting in Parkersburg, it's not too bad. But when it's somewhere else, it involves drive time. Trying to work and get out on the campaign trail is tough. It's a tough thing to do. But, it's been really rewarding to get out and meet people."

Regardless of the results he finds after Tuesday's primary, Beane said this campaign is not the end of the road.

"It's a beginning, not an end," he said. "Whether I get in this time or have a chance another time, I want to be ready. I got into the race late, and that made things tough. Plus, with two off-year elections recently, money seems to be tough to raise for everyone out there."

Beane said he has been working hard to educate people exactly about the state Supreme Court.

"Lots of people don't know who is on the Supreme Court or know what the Court does," Beane said. "I tell them that the Supreme Court decides issues that affect everybody. I've been trying to let people know that, but it's hard to do. As long they don't feel involved, it's hard to convince them why it's important.

"Like I tell people all the time, 100 delegates, 34 state senators and the governor all can sign off on a bill. But it just takes three members of the Supreme Court to undo it."

He said people don't understand how the Court affects every citizen.

"People don't realize how the Court can affect them," he said. "From the education system, the health care system, the tax system, to jobs and even our image. When businesses are looking to locate here or expand, all of that comes into play. Our current Court has really stabilized things in the last few years. They've brought that balance back that people have desired."

After 16 years as a legislator and four as a circuit judge, Beane said he's ready for another role in the law process.

"My days of enacting law are over," he said. "Now, I'm enforcing the law. And I'd like an opportunity to interpret the law."

He said he thinks the campaign has been fun so far.

"Obviously, it's been nice getting to know the candidates and others on the campaign trail I didn't know," Beane said. "I think everybody, for the most part, has been real cordial.

But it's a money race. To get your name out and your message, it takes money. One of the disadvantages I have is getting in the race late. But I'm not going to give up. I knew the money factor going in."

Living and working in Wood County, Beane invoked the name of late Justice Joseph P. Albright when he announced plans to run for the Court.

Beane said he wants the chance to represent the people of the Ohio Valley on the Court like Albright did before his death in 2009.

"This is a seat that I would be running for that was filled by Justice Albright from here in Wood County," Beane said then. "When he passed, the unexpired term was appointed to Justice (Tom) McHugh, who then ran for the two-year unexpired term. And, of course, he's not running for the full 12-year term.

"Had Joe still been living and healthy, I'm sure he would've sought this seat again. But given the circumstances, I have an interest in running for his seat now.

"I've talked with his wife, and she is wholeheartedly in support of me running. I've been approached by others to seek the seat. I've enjoyed my time as a circuit court judge, but I guess the limitation of what I do is confined to Wood and Wirt counties. My interests would be helping West Virginia with the issues that we're facing."

Beane was appointed circuit judge by Gov. Joe Manchin on Dec. 15, 2006. Before becoming a circuit judge, he was in private practice from 1990 to 2006.

He also served in the West Virginia House of Delegates from 1990 to 2006. There, he served on several committees, Government Organization, Insurance, Banking, Judiciary Finance, Constitutional Revisions, Industry and Labor and Rules.

Beane said his experience as a legislator and a circuit judge would benefit the Supreme Court.

"My experience in those different aspects would help," he said. "I've been there making laws. As a circuit judge, I make sure the laws are followed. And as a Supreme Court Justice, I would be have the chance to interpret the law."

"This seat won't be considered again for 12 years," Beane said. "However this election shakes out, that has to be considered. But without speaking about the other candidates' qualifications, I have experience serving in Legislature for 16 years.

"It has certainly helped having an understanding of the law and that experience helps me with the Supreme Court. I certainly think that it enables me to better serve as a justice."

Beane is a native of Gassaway in Braxton County. He grew up in Parkersburg. He holds a law degree from Capital University Law School, attended summer school at Ohio State University College of Law and Oxford University and received a bachelor of arts degree from West Virginia University.

Beane is one of six Democratic candidates for the Supreme Court. Joining him are current Justice Robin Jean Davis, fellow Circuit Judge Jim Rowe, Charleston attorney Tish Chafin, Supreme Court law clerk Louis Palmer and New Martinsville attorney H. John "Buck" Rogers.

Supreme Court law clerk Allen Loughry and Circuit Judge John Yoder are the Republicans running for two spots on the bench in this spring's primary.

The primary election is May 8, and the general election is Nov. 6.

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