CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WCHS/WVAH) — The Associated Press has projected Evan Jenkins as the winner in the West Virginia Supreme Court Division 2 race to fill a six-year unexpired term as a justice.
With 96 percent of the precincts reporting, Jenkins had 36 percent of the vote, while his closest competitors, Dennise Smith had 14 percent, and Jeffrey Kessler had 12 percent.
In Supreme Court Division 2, 10 candidates were vying to fill the seat left vacant when Robin Davis retired as a justice.
Gov. Jim Justice appointed Jenkins to fill the seat on the Supreme Court on an interim basis until a new justice was elected in November. Jenkins resigned from the U.S. House of Representatives District 3 seat to take the interim post.
Jenkins, a Huntington resident, was one of 10 candidates for Davis’ seat. The other candidates in the race were attorney Jim Douglas of Charleston; attorney Robert Frank of Lewisburg; attorney Jeff Kessler of Glen Dale; attorney Brenden Long of Scott Depot; attorney Jim O’Brien of Wheeling; attorney William Schwartz of Charleston; attorney Marty “Red Shoes” Sheehan of Wheeling; attorney Dennise Renee Smith of Charleston; and attorney William Stewart Thompson of Boone County.
The new justice will take seat on a court that has been rocked by controversy. Justice Beth Walker takes over as chief justice Jan. 1. She faced an impeachment trial in the West Virginia Senate, which voted not to remove her from office but to instead issue a public reprimand and censure.
Meanwhile, Justice Allen Loughry is currently suspended from the Supreme Court and was convicted in federal court on 11 of 22 charges. He also faces allegations that he violated the Judicial Code of Conduct. His impeachment trial in the state Senate was halted based on a decision by the acting justices
Justice Margaret Workman, the current chief justice, also was impeached by the West Virginia House of Delegates. Workman’s impeachment trial in the state Senate was halted by acting justices, who said the three articles of impeachment against Workman violate the separation of powers doctrine and the Senate does not have jurisdiction over the alleged violations in the impeachment articles.
The acting justice’s ruling effectively halted the Senate impeachment trials for Loughry and Robin Davis, who retired from the court after the House approved impeachment articles against her.