CHARLESTON — Tim Armstead and Evan Jenkins secured their seats on the West Virginia Supreme Court tonight to continue the two- and six-year terms they were appointed to by Gov. Jim Justice earlier this year.
With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Armstead had 128,692 of the votes in Division 1, while Jenkins held 179,619 in Division 2.
"I'm humbled by it and appreciative of the people of West Virginia for this opportunity," Armstead said on Metro News Tuesday night.
Armstead said he had always wanted to run a statewide campaign but never expected to run one in such a short period of time.
"We thought it would be stretched out a little bit further," Armstead said. "We've really enjoyed the opportunity to travel throughout the state — me, my wife, my daughter, my son-in-law and my new grandson, we sometimes went together and sometimes to different areas of the state."
Armstead said they talked to people across the state about what they could do to restore confidence in the Supreme Court.
"That's the task in front of us and we're certainly already working on it," Armstead said. "I'm very excited to begin to continue that work."
Armstead said he has enjoyed working on the court so far.
"Not only have we already heard oral arguments and been deciding cases and working on somewhat of a backlog that was there in the caseload, but we've also been working on putting in place policies that will prevent any future occurrences of what we've seen over the past year and working on the budget."
Armstead said now that voters have approved the constitutional amendment, things will be different in how they go about doing the budget and working with the Legislature.
"We've already been putting some work into that over the last several weeks," Armstead said. "We've got a lot of work in front of us and a lot to do to restore the confidence and make people trust the court again, but I think we're well on our way to do that and I look forward to being a part of that."
The Republican State Leadership Committee President Matt Walter congratulated Armstead and Jenkins on their victories.
“The Republican State Leadership Committee – Judicial Fairness Initiative congratulates Tim Armstead and Evan Jenkins on their victories in the race for West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals," Walter told The West Virginia Record. "Tim and Evan will return honesty and integrity to a court desperately in need of a course correction. They are the tough but fair Justices who bring their experiences from the front lines fighting on behalf of West Virginians suffering from opioid addiction."
Walter said for too long, West Virginia’s court elections were the exclusive province of personal injury trial lawyers and labor union interests.
"Since its creation in 2014, the Judicial Fairness Initiative has balanced the playing field for constitutional conservative, rule of law, and honest and ethical candidates," Walter said.
Joanna Tabit, who was runner-up to Armstead with 100,807 votes, said she wanted to express congratulations to Armstead.
"He ran a great race," Tabit said in an interview with The West Virginia Record. "I really enjoyed the process of getting out and meeting voters and reconnecting with old friends and meeting new friends. I can't be disappointed because tomorrow morning I will get up and go to a job that I love."
Tabit said it's a definite possibility that she would run in 2020.
In July, Justice Menis Ketchum resigned prior to impeachment proceedings began in the House. Ketchum later pleaded guilty to one federal court of mail fraud. His seat is up for re-election in 2020.
In August, Justice Robin Jean Davis announced her resignation. Her seat is up for re-election in 2024.
Justice appointed both Jenkins and Armstead to temporarily fill the seats until a special election could be held.
There were 10 candidates in each of the divisions.
Division 1, which was for Ketchum's seat, included Armstead, Tabit, Harry "Bo" Bruner, Jeff Woods, Chris Wilkes, Robert Carlton, Ron Hatfield, Mark Hunt, Hiram "Buck" Lewis and D.C. Offut Jr.
Division 2, which was for Davis's seat, included Jenkins, Dennise Smith, Marty "Red Shoes" Sheehan, Will Thompson, Robert J. Frank, Brenden Long, Jim O'Brien, Bill Schwartz and Jim Douglas.
Armstead is a former Republican Speaker of the House of Delegates. He resigned in August to run for Supreme Court.
Jenkins is a former U.S. representative. He resigned in September after he was appointed by Justice.