More candidates lining up to run for open Supreme Court seats

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The field of candidates interested in running for open seats on the West Virginia Supreme Court continues to grow.

Two seats have now opened with the sudden retirements of justices Menis Ketchum and Robin Davis, following months of controversy over Supreme Court spending practices.

Congressman Evan Jenkins, who finished second in this spring’s Republican primary race for U.S. Senate, likely has the most name recognition of those announcing Supreme Court candidacies.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the Secretary of State’s office did not have a record of Jenkins filing, but his campaign released a statement saying he intends to run.

Another possible candidate, Judge William Thompson of Boone County, also announced plans to run.

Those who have filed include Harry Bruner, a Charleston lawyer who has run for U.S. Senate before; Carl Hostler, general counsel for the West Virginia State Pipe Trades and a lawyer with Prim Law Office in Hurricane; Brenden Long, a Putnam County attorney; Marty “Red Shoes” Sheehan, a Wheeling attorney; and Kanawha Circuit Judge Joanna Tabit.

The filing period started August 6 for the seat vacated by Ketchum.

On Tuesday afternoon, Gov. Jim Justice issued a formal proclamation calling for a special election to fill Davis’s unexpired term. Candidate filing for the seat vacated by Davis will begin Wednesday .

Each seat will be on the ballot for the for a special election on Nov. 6, running concurrently with the General Election.

The Ketchum seat, a two-year term, will be designated Division 1. The Davis seat, a six-year term, will be identified as Division 2.

Candidates for either position have until midnight August 21 to formally file. West Virginia’s judicial elections are considered nonpartisan.

“We’re so close to the general election we’re encouraging anybody who has any interest in running for the general election to make that decision,” said Steve Connolly of the Secretary of State’s office on MetroNews’ “Talkline.”

“It’s probably one of the biggest undertaking they’ll ever make, but try to do that as quickly as possible. We don’t want chaos on the ballot.”

Candidates who want to run for either unexpired term and are also on a partisan ballot seeking election to another position are strongly encouraged to seek advice from the West Virginia Judicial Investigations Commission.

Congressman Jenkins, who wrapped up a U.S. Senate campaign just a few months ago, issued a statement today indicating his interest in running for Supreme Court.

Jenkins ran for Supreme Court in 2000, winding out of the running in a two-seat ace that also included Davis and Joseph Albright.

His announcement on Tuesday made reference to the recent Supreme Court controversies and impeachment.

“Yesterday, the people’s house of our state Legislature voiced what most West Virginians have been feeling — our trust in the state’s highest court is broken,” Jenkins stated.

“Now more than ever, we need public servants who will put the people first, restore transparency and accountability in our Supreme Court, not greed and self-interest.”

Judge Thompson of Boone County, who sent out a release about his candidacy, said he is running to restore citizens’ faith in the judiciary.

“With the recent turmoil on our Supreme Court, West Virginia needs an experienced judge whose reputation for fairness and impartiality is unquestioned,” Thompson stated.

Bruner, the Charleston lawyer, arrived at the Capitol on Wednesday afternoon to file with the Secretary of State — bringing along a small desk and chair that he said would be sufficient for his future Supreme Court office.

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