HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — The Morgantown attorney who lost a possible seat on the West Virginia Supreme Court in 2008 by less than one percentage point is hoping 2016 is her year.
“I didn’t give up on my opportunity to be a leader in the community and in our state,” Beth Walker said. “When the election was changed to nonpartisan, I was just really motivated to get back in.”
All of the now nonpartisan judicial races, including the one Walker is in for a 12 year term on the Supreme Court, will be decided during West Virginia’s primary election on May 10th. “That is our general election, in essence,” Walker said.
Since announcing her candidacy in June 2015, she has been on the campaign trail.
MetroNews caught up with her earlier this month during a stop at Huntington’s Recovery Point, a 100-bed peer residential recovery program for men battling addiction.
“I just hope to better understand,” Walker said of the Recovery Point tour. “The drug epidemic in our state is so significant and I think that our judicial system is, ultimately, going to be dealing with it time after time.”
Walker works as associate general counsel for the West Virginia University Health System. Previously, she was a partner in the Bowles Rice law firm where she focused on labor and employment law.
There are no party labels on the Supreme Court candidates this year, but Walker has described herself as a conservative judicial candidate.
“I will be a justice who is fair and impartial and decide cases based on the law, pure and simple. I think it’s really important that we not have politics play a role in our court and I’m committed to that,” Walker said.
Those who have endorsed Walker include U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and 3rd District Congressman Evan Jenkins (R-W.Va.).
Additional endorsements have come from the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce, West Virginia State Medical Association, the West Virginia Farm Bureau, the West Virginia Business and Industry Council and the West Virginia Coal Association among others.
Earlier this year, Walker unsuccessfully challenged the public campaign financing awarded to her fellow candidates, current Justice Brent Benjamin and Bill Wooten, a former state lawmaker from Beckley.
“I felt then and feel now it’s important to stand up for the rules meaning something and that was exactly what that appeal was about,” she said.
In addition to Benjamin and Wooten, the other West Virginia Supreme Court candidates are Darrell McGraw, a former state Supreme Court justice and former state attorney general, and Wayne King, a Clay attorney.
The candidate elected in May will serve on the West Virginia Supreme Court through 2029.
“If you want to think about it one way, the children who are in kindergarten now will be seniors in high school when this justice completes her term, hopefully,” Walker said.
This story is the first in a series of MetroNews profiles on the Supreme Court candidates.
Early voting ahead of the May 10th primary election begins on April 27. The last day to register to vote is April 19.