The Charleston Gazette - Ketchum, Workman win seats on West Virginia Supreme Court

News Article

By:  Menis Ketchum II
Date: Nov. 5, 2008
Location: Charleton, WV

The Charleston Gazette - Ketchum, Workman win seats on West Virginia Supreme Court

Walker finishes close third

Andrew Clevenger

After a long, hotly contested campaign, voters sent Democrats Menis Ketchum and Margaret Workman to the state Supreme Court on Tuesday.

With all of the state's 1,887 precincts reporting, Ketchum had 353,293 votes. Workman also earned a seat on the high court by finishing second with 333,254 votes. Republican Beth Walker received 327,084 votes.

Tuesday's election determines who will fill two of the five seats on the high court, with each winning candidate to serve a 12-year term.

"I'm really thankful that the people of West Virginia elected me," Ketchum said, adding that he enjoyed talking to people throughout West Virginia during the campaign. "Evidently, person-to-person, county-to-county campaigning pays off."

Mere percentage points separated the three candidates, who each won between 32 percent and 35 percent of the vote.

"I really did expect the race to be close. I felt that Beth Walker campaigned exceptionally hard. She's just a good campaigner," Ketchum said.

Walker said she was proud of her campaign.

"We worked hard and we talked a lot about how important our Supreme Court race is, and we made a lot of ground up," she said. "I'm excited by our results, and obviously the voters decided differently, but I'm proud of what we accomplished."

The highly contested race, which saw sitting Chief Justice Elliott "Spike" Maynard defeated in May's Democratic primary, was one of the most expensive statewide races.

According to figures from the Secretary of State, Ketchum has spent $1.2 million, while Workman and Walker have totaled roughly $298,000 and $231,000, respectively.

In addition, a group of pro-business organizations, including the state Chamber of Commerce and its national counterpart, spent $403,000 in advertising on Walker's behalf last week.

In the days leading up to the election, it was hard to turn on a television without seeing an ad for a candidate for the Supreme Court.

Workman, 61, is the only candidate with previous judicial experience, having served as a circuit court judge in Kanawha County. She also served on the state's high court after becoming the first woman elected to statewide office in 1988.

She stepped down as a justice in 1999 before her term expired. She ran unsuccessfully for state Senate and U.S. Congress.

Walker, 43, has focused primarily on employment law since she was admitted to the bar in 1990. The South Charleston resident is married to Mike Walker, an executive with Walker Machinery Co.

Wayne County native Ketchum, 65, has represented both plaintiffs and defendants in civil cases throughout his legal career.

Ketchum lives in Huntington, where he serves on Marshall University's Board of Governors.

All three candidates agreed during the campaign that the integrity of the state's only appeals court has been undermined by recent headline-grabbing scandals, and each pledged to restore a sense of fairness to the court.