This article originally provided by The Charleston Daily Mail

June 5, 2008

State Supreme Court race was the priciest primary

by The Associated Press

The four Democrats running for a pair of seats on West Virginia's Supreme Court plowed a combined $2 million into their primary election efforts, with a hefty share coming from defeated incumbent Chief Justice Elliott "Spike'' Maynard.

Maynard raised $777,400 from contributors, more than the rest of the field combined. About $190,000 of that came in during his campaign's final two weeks.

Maynard poured all but $10,500 into the race before the May 13 primary, but a conflict-of-interest scandal featuring European vacation photos helped prove his undoing.

Of the primary winners, former Justice Margaret Workman spent more than $269,000 and Huntington lawyer Menis Ketchum plunked down nearly $795,000. They had partly self-financed their bids, with Workman loaning her campaign $603,500 and Ketchum giving his nearly $500,000.

West Virginia University law professor Bob Bastress rounded out the field, raising $141,866 and spending $198,652 with the help of loans.

Such spending made the Democrats' Supreme Court race the primary's most expensive. The $1.01 million they devoted to the contest, per-seat, eclipses the $700,000 spent on that party's race for governor. Incumbent Gov. Joe Manchin accounts for all but $14,200 of that.

Much of Ketchum's war chest paid for televisions spots as he sought to introduce his candidacy to a statewide audience. Maynard spent $248,570 during the final two weeks, nearly all of it on television and radio advertising.

Maynard also spread about $2,750 among 55 election workers just before the primary, while Workman's campaign paid 49 supporters $2,450 to work the phones.

The Supreme Court candidates' total is in addition to spending by independent groups weighing in on that race. Such efforts totaled $793,000 just before the primary, with four-fifths of that expended by Maynard supporters. A federal judge's ruling before the election, in a legal challenge to state disclosure rules, freed some ads directed at the race from reporting requirements.

Maynard raised two-and-a-half times as much as the other three Democrats during the last two weeks of the primary cycle. As they had earlier in the campaign cycle, these contributors included a mix of interest groups led by lawyers, coal and physicians.

But by then, Maynard had fallen from heavy favorite to vulnerable after photographs surfaced that showed him vacationing in Monaco with Massey Energy chief Don Blankenship.

At the time, the coal producer had cases either pending with or heading to the court on appeal. Each man has cited their decades-long friendship, and deny any wrongdoing in the July 2006 overseas trip.

Workman had nearly $377,000 on hand as of May 25, while Ketchum had $11,120. They face Republican Beth Walker in November. Unopposed in her primary, the Charleston lawyer has raised $160,000 and spent about $61,000 to leave her effort with a $99,500 balance.


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Citizens for Clean Elections P.O. Box 6753 Huntington, WV 25773-6753 304-522-0246