By Lawrence Messina
West Virginia’s Supreme Court of Appeals added its latest member Friday, with newly elected Justice Allen Loughry expressing hope that his victory last month will inspire others to public service.
During a Friday ceremony at the court’s state Capitol chamber, the 42-year-old Republican recounted an email he received after his Nov. 6 win. A well-wisher called Loughry an ‘average Joe’ who showed that others with middle-class backgrounds could attain office.
“That’s what this campaign was all about,” Loughry said from the bench. “The next generation of West Virginians have to know that they count, they need to know that they matter. They need to know that they can be a positive change in the state.”
Loughry had been a law clerk at the court since 2003 when he ran for one of two seats on this year’s ballot. He prevailed along with incumbent Justice Robin Davis, one of three Democrats on the five-member court. Both start their 12-year terms on Jan. 1.
The Tucker County native was previously a senior assistant attorney general and a special prosecutor. He is also the author of a 2006 book chronicling political corruption and shenanigans in West Virginia, which became part of his campaign message.
The campaign’s upbeat TV ads also featured Loughry’s 6-year-old son, Justus, who along with his mother helped Loughry put on his robe during Friday’s ceremony.
Loughry is taking the seat of a retiring Justice Thomas McHugh, who was there to welcome his successor. Loughry mixed light-hearted ribbing with individual offers of thanks to the justices, family members, friends and supporters in the standing room-only audience.
Loughry was the sole Supreme Court candidate among the eight who ran this year to take part in a pilot program that offered public financing as an alternative to traditional fundraising. It provided him with $350,000 for the general election. But Loughry was denied additional money meant to help him keep pace with opponents in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling against such “rescue” funding.