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Candidates file precandidacy papers for W.Va. Supreme Court

May 14, 2019

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Candidates have begun lining up for Supreme Court races next year in West Virginia.

Three seats are up for grabs on May 12, 2020.

Justice Margaret Workman’s 12-year term ends next year. Former Republican House speaker Tim Armstead won a special election in November and is completing the 12-year term through next year of convicted former Justice Menis Ketchum.

And John Hutchison was appointed in December by Gov. Jim Justice to the seat vacated by convicted former Justice Allen Loughry. A special election will be held next year for the remainder of Loughry’s term through 2024.

Kanawha County Circuit Judge Joanna Tabit filed precandidacy papers Tuesday. According to the secretary of state’s website, Armstead and Charleston attorney William Schwartz also have filed precandidacy papers.

Judicial elections in West Virginia became nonpartisan in 2016, but the court’s impeachment scandal last year stirred political attacks. Some Democrats argued the court’s shakeup was a power grab by Republicans.

Loughry, Workman and Justices Beth Walker and Robin Davis were impeached by the House of Delegates in August, but a temporary panel of justices later derailed the efforts. Davis retired after the impeachment charges were announced. Former GOP Congressman Evan Jenkins won a special election for the seat of Davis, whose term runs through in 2024.

Loughry was sentenced in February to two years in federal prison for using his job for his own benefit and lying to investigators. He resigned last year after his conviction.

Ketchum was sentenced to probation on a felony fraud count related to his personal use of a state vehicle and gas fuel card. Ketchum retired in July before the House held impeachment hearings.

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