The race for state Supreme Court is officially set as incumbent Justice Robin Davis and personal injury lawyer Tish Chafin have advanced from the Democratic Primary to face Circuit Judge John Yoder and Supreme Court law clerk Allen Loughry. Justice Davis led the Democratic Primary ticket with approximately 28% of the vote, with Chafin finishing less than 3,000 votes behind.
Greenbrier County Circuit Judge Jim Rowe – who is highly regarded for his fairness – finished in a distant third place. Judge Rowe was significantly outspent by both Davis and Chafin, both of whom relied upon considerable amounts of their personal wealth during the race.
The Charleston Daily Mail writes that challengers Yoder and Loughry were critical of the spending so far:
Yoder said he wanted to see Greenbrier Circuit Court Judge Jim Rowe win one of the two Democratic Party nominations. Rowe came in third with 19 percent of the vote.
“It tells me on the Democratic side, the amount of money you spend is far more important than the qualifications,” Yoder said.
Yoder also appeared to challenge Davis’ qualifications, even though she is now a seasoned veteran of the court.
Yoder said Rowe “was, by far, the most qualified” candidate in the Democratic field.
Loughry, who is the sole Supreme Court candidate to take advantage of state public financing for his run, lamented the “tremendous amount of money” spent in the Democratic primary, particularly the $1 million Chafin put into her own campaign.
“And when one candidate put $1 million into her campaign, that candidate sent the message to every kid growing up in every rural part of this state that they don’t count, that they can’t participate in West Virginia politics and you should not be able to buy a seat on the West Virginia Supreme Court,” Loughry said.
The race for Supreme Court should be a high-profile affair during the General Election, as many will be watching to see if the Court continues down a path of moderation or makes a return to its days of “jackpot justice.”