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Third-party money pours into WV high court race

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Outside money is pouring into the race for a seat on West Virginia’s Supreme Court, a seat that was last won a dozen years ago with a huge and notorious flood of outside spending. Groups independent of the candidates have spent more than $1.1 million on the race, more than triple the amount of money the race’s five candidates have raised.

Nearly two-thirds of that money has come from an out-of-state group. Two factors have evened the score a bit, though, enabling candidates to keep control of their own message — public campaign financing and one candidate’s personal wealth.

The five candidates, through traditional fundraising mechanisms, have raised about $373,000 between them. But two, incumbent Justice Brent Benjamin and former legislator Bill Wooton, applied for and were approved for public campaign financing.

Each candidate received nearly $500,000 in public money.

Beth Walker, the favored candidate of the state’s Republican establishment and business community, has raised the most money for her campaign, about $200,000, but has supplemented that with a $500,000 loan from her husband…

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