CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A longtime Clay County attorney who has never run for public office and, so far, has raised $0 for his West Virginia Supreme Court campaign is confident about how he’ll he do on election day.
“I’m going to get more than 50 percent of the vote,” Wayne King told MetroNews.
At age 71, he’s one of the five Supreme Court candidates criss-crossing the Mountain State ahead of the first nonpartisan judicial election during the May 10th primary election, one that will see a Supreme Court justice elected to a 12 year term with as little as 21 percent of the vote.
While King supports the nonpartisan aspect, he said the finality of the May judicial race should be revisited.
“If no person gets more than 50 percent of the vote, there should be a runoff between the two top vote-getters in November,” he suggested. “A position of that power and that importance should have the majority of the people behind it.”
Raised in Belle, King has been practicing law for 45 years in Clay. For 43 of those years, he’s been married to his wife, Sandy.
When asked about his judicial philosophy, he responded this way:
“If they would say ‘hello’ to my wife, who’s just a terrific person and a beautiful woman, they would see that that’s the best decision I ever made. That’s my decision basis. That’s my philosophy is to make good decisions like I made when I got married,” he said.
“I’m probably more conservative than I am liberal, but I think there’s a lot of people that are entitled to have their rights.”
As of this week, King’s campaign contributions stood at $0, according to finance reports from the Secretary of State’s Office. He had spent $13,860 that he loaned to his own campaign.
The other Supreme Court candidates were reporting significantly larger amounts of fundraising: Beth Walker, $170,075; Darrell McGraw, $52,866; Justice Brent Benjamin, $534,050 and Bill Wooton, $545,725. Walker has loaned her campaign an additional $250,000.
Benjamin and Wooton both qualified for public campaign financing through the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals Public Financing Program, administered through the State Election Commission, and those funds were reflected in their totals.
King is opposed to such public funding for an elected office that pays an annual salary of $136,000. He has also pledged not to accept any reimbursements for out of pocket expenses, if elected, and said he believes an intermediate appeals court would be “a waste of money.”
“I’ve probably been involved in more cases in an adversarial situation in court than all my four opponents put together. I’ve probably won more than my opponents put together and I’ve probably lost more than my opponents put together,” King said.
“I’ve probably had more ethics complaints than my opponents put together.”
In 2007, King lost his law license for 60 days for taking a $15,000 loan from a client who was a relative in 2003, violating the rules of professional conduct. King claimed the person who originally filed the complaint later hired him as an attorney.
King called himself the “wild card” in the Supreme Court race.
“I’m not afraid to answer a question. I’m not afraid to tell you the truth. I don’t bring you a prepared answer or prepared script to read to you. I speak right here from my heart,” he said.
Of his run, “I would hate to wake up five years from now and say, ‘Why didn’t I do it?'”
This story is part of 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.