Outside spending dominates WV judicial race

An editorial from The Herald-Dispatch

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — So much for trying to take the big money out of West Virginia judicial races.

West Virginia’s move to a nonpartisan election process this spring was sparked not only by concerns about the influence of party politics in selecting judges, but also by the increasing amounts of money being spent on the races.

Judges should be fair and impartial, and that becomes more difficult when candidates have to go hat-in-hand to special interests to raise millions of dollars for a campaign. To help with that, the state also added a public financing component to the nonpartisan state Supreme Court race.

At first glance, the candidates in that Supreme Court election contest do seem to be spending less than the millions spent in some past elections. Incumbent Justice Brent Benjamin and Bill Wooton qualified for the $500,000 in public financing, and each has spent about that much. Beth Walker has spent about the same, and the other two candidates in the five-way race – Darrell McGraw and Wayne King – have spent $15,000 or less, according to the Charleston Gazette Mail.

But special interest groups have spent that much and more…

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