CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WCHS/WVAH) — The Associated Press has projected Tim Armstead as the winner in the West Virginia Supreme Court Division 1 race to fill a two-year unexpired term as a justice.
With 96 percent of the precincts reporting, Armstead had 26 percent of the vote, while Joanna Tabit had 22 percent. Chris Wilkes was the next closest challenger at 13 percent.
In Supreme Court Division 1, 10 candidates were vying to a seat left vacant when Menis Ketchum retired as a justice.
Gov. Jim Justice appointed Armstead to fill the seat on the Supreme Court on an interim basis until a new justice was elected in November. Armstead resigned from the West Virginia House of Delegates, where he was serving as the speaker and as a Republican delegate representing Kanawha County to take the seat.
Armstead, an Elkview resident, was one of 10 candidates for Ketchum’s seat. The other candidates in the race were attorney Harry C. Bruner Jr. of Charleston; attorney Robert Carlton of Williamson; attorney Ronald Hatfield of Huntington; attorney Mark Hunt of Charleston; attorney Hiram Lewis IV of Procious; attorney D.C. Offutt Jr. of Barboursville; attorney Joanna Tabit of Charleston; attorney Chris Wilkes of Martinsburg; and attorney Jeff Woods of Nitro.
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.