by Ron Gregory
BECKLEY – For former Third District Congressman Nick Joe Rahall, it’s a first.
“It’s rare,” the ex-congressman said Friday from his Beckley home. “In fact, I’ve not done it once since leaving office.”
What Rahall did Friday was endorse the candidacy of Boone County Circuit Judge William Thompson for election to the West Virginia supreme court of appeals.
“I am pleased to recommend and endorse Judge … Thompson,” Rahall said in his announcement. “I have known Judge Thompson for many years and have worked closely with him, especially in his efforts in helping people recover from the awful effects of the drug epidemic.” Thompson, who presides primarily in Madison although his circuit includes Lincoln County and Hamlin, has earned a statewide reputation for implementing and working with drug courts.
The opioid epidemic is widely recognized – even by President Donald Trump – as one of the biggest problems and threats to West Virginia’s future.
“Judge Thompson truly cares for the people,” said Rahall, who served from 1977 to 2015 and is West Virginia’s longest-serving member of the house of representatives.
“I really didn’t want to get out front in political races but this one is non-partisan and Judge Thompson is a truly great judge,” Rahall said by phone. “I think the public will want to elect him once they learn about his values and work ethic.”
Thompson is one of ten candidates who will be on the November 6 ballot to be elected to complete the unexpired term of Justice Robin Davis, which will run for six years. Other candidates for the spot include: Charleston Family Court Judge James Wilson Douglas, Robert Frank of Lewisburg, Representative Evan Jenkins of Huntington, former State Senate President Jeffrey Kessler of Glen Dale, Brendan Long of Hurricane, Jim O’Brien of Wheeling, William Schwartz of Charleston, Marty Sheehan of Wheeling, and Dennise Smith of Charleston.
Meanwhile, Governor Jim Justice has scheduled an 11 a.m., Saturday press conference to discuss the supreme court. Speculation is that he will name a temporary replacement for Davis and another retired justice, Menis Ketchum, at that time. The Judicial Vacancy Review Commission was conducting interviews yesterday and today of candidates for both positions.
With Thompson and the others listed running for what is designated as Division 2, there are ten candidates for Division 1, which would complete the remaining two years of Ketchum’s term.
The Division 1 candidates are: former House Speaker Tim Armstead of Elkview, Harry Bruner, Jr. of Charleston, Robert Carlton of Williamson, Ronald Hatfield of Huntington, former legislator Mark Hunt of Charleston, Hiram Lewis of Procious, D.C. Offutt of Barboursville, Kanawha Circuit Judge Joanna Tabit of Charleston, Chris Wilkes of Martinsburg, and Jeff Woods of Nitro.
Replacement justices appointed by Justice would serve until the election of their replacements is certified and they are sworn into office.