BECKLEY – Bill Wooton is hoping to ride momentum from his campaign straight into a seat on the state Supreme Court.
“I feel good about it,” Wooton said about his chances in the May 10 election. “I’m getting a tremendous reception, and people like my television ads. I keep running into people I’ve had contact with over the years, and I’m hearing good things.”
Still, Wooton isn’t going to rest on his laurels.
“I’m headed to the northern Panhandle,” he said during a recent telephone interview. “Then, I’ll come back down through the central part of the state to campaign. Then, I will head back to Beckley and try to talk to as many people as I can on the phone.”
Wooton, a former state lawmaker, said he is proud of the campaign he’s run.
“We’ve tried to remain positive throughout the campaign,” he said. “Win or lose, we are going to remain positive. But I tell you, West Virginia is a big place, and everyone is so nice. People are nice to you either way when you’re out on the campaign trail, so it’s hard to get a good measure of how you’re doing.”
Wooton said the fact that judicial elections in the state now are non-partisan hasn’t changed how he has campaigned.
“I’ve said repeatedly since the beginning of the race that I don’t think the non-partisan aspect has made the difference people expected,” he said. “Judicial candidates must adhere to the Code of Judicial Conduct, and that prohibits you from saying and doing a lot of things.
“What the change to non-partisan has done is it has eliminated, if you will, the run-off election in November. And, it’s made it possible to be elected with less than the majority of the vote. But also, it puts everything all behind us in early May.”
While most of the campaign season was quiet, the last few weeks has seen an influx of outside groups buying ads concerning the race. A few of those ads have attacked Wooton as well as former state Attorney General and Justice Darrell McGraw. Both are lifelong Democrats.
Wooton, however, said he doesn’t know what impact – if any – these ads will have on the race.
“That’s really hard to say,” he said. “I haven’t seen that much television, but most of the third-party stuff started after early voting began. So, I think that shows that this is an important race, and these groups want to get their views out there.
“I’ve heard of three criticisms about me in these ads. One is that I’m a Democrat, and Obama is Democrat, so I must be bad,” he said with a chuckle. “I don’t object to the criticism, but that candidate they’re supporting (Beth Walker) has talked extensively about how she’s glad it’s now a non-partisan race. Yet, this is the first injection of partisanship into the race.”
Wooton said he just plans to continue pushing toward victory on May 10.
“We will just continue the march,” he said. “My favorite ad is my first ad, I hope we run that again. Plus, it made my grandkids celebrities.”
Finally, Wooton urged voters to take advantage of early voting if they can.
“It’s easy to think I can go early vote anytime,” he said. “I would encourage anyone who intends to vote to go as soon as you can. Do it now because I suspect the lines will be shorter now than they will be on May 10th.”