Jenkins, Armstead win Supreme Court races

By Bruce Schreiner and John Raby - Associated Press

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Ex-Congressman Evan Jenkins and former House of Delegates speaker Tim Armstead were elected Tuesday to keep their seats on the West Virginia Supreme Court, where they will complete the unexpired terms of former justices caught up in a scandal over court spending.

The two prominent Republicans emerged from crowded campaigns to secure their continued place on West Virginia’s highest court. They were appointed to the court by GOP Gov. Jim Justice during the summer to fill the seats until Tuesday’s election.

Both races drew flocks of candidates from the state’s legal circles.

Armstead ran against seven attorneys and two circuit judges to complete the term of retired Justice Menis Ketchum. The term runs through 2020. Jenkins was among 10 candidates who competed for the seat of retired Justice Robin Davis, whose term runs through 2024.

Judicial elections in West Virginia became nonpartisan in 2016, but the court’s turmoil stirred political attacks. Some Democrats argued that the court’s shakeup was a power grab by the Republican-led legislature.

Ketchum and Davis left the court after they became entangled in a scandal stemming from questions over lavish office renovations that evolved into accusations of corruption, incompetence and neglect of duty.

Armstead emerged victories over a field of candidates that included circuit judges Joanna Tabit and Chris Wilkes as well as attorneys Harry Bruner Jr., Robert Carlton, Ronald Hatfield, Mark Hunt, Hiram Lewis IV, D.C. Offutt Jr. and Jeff Woods.

Jenkins won the race that featured another well-known political figure — Democratic former state Senate President Jeff Kessler. Six other candidates were attorneys, one was a circuit judge and one was a family court judge. They were circuit Judge Will Thompson, family court Judge Jim Douglas and attorneys Robert J. Frank, Brenden Long, Jim O’Brien, Marty “Redshoes” Sheehan, William Schwartz and Dennise Renee Smith.

By Bruce Schreiner and John Raby

Associated Press