CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Large personal loans and out-of-state contributors are among the sources fueling West Virginia's state-level election races, the opening round of campaign finance reports show.
The first batch of filings ahead of the May 8 primary also show that Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has been the most successful among those running for state offices. The Democrat attracted more than $1 million for his re-election bid.
Six Democrats are seeking nomination for two Supreme Court seats. Justice Robin Davis is leading that field for funds received from donors, with $221,000. She's also loaned herself another $210,000. But fellow Democrat Tish Chafin has self-funded her campaign with $1 million. Chafin has also raised $138,000 from contributors.
That left Chafin, a former State Bar president, with a $958,000 balance as of March 30 after her campaign spent $182,000. Davis reported having $121,000.
In each political party's primary, nominations for the pair of Supreme Court seats will go to the top two vote-getters. Of the other Democrats running, Greenbrier County Circuit Judge Jim Rowe raised nearly $97,000 and had a $33,600 balance after spending nearly $74,000. Louis Palmer, a lawyer at the court, had $826 on hand after raising nearly $6,900 and spending close to that amount. Reports for the other Democrats, Circuit Judge J.D. Beane and lawyer H. John Rogers, were not immediately available.
The GOP's Supreme Court candidates are assured nominations next month. One, Jefferson Circuit Judge John Yoder, reported raising $8,405 and spending $1,817. The other, Supreme Court law clerk Allen Loughry, has filed to qualify for public funding through a pilot project offered as an alternative to traditional fundraising.
Among the other statewide races, Republican Patrick Morrisey has raised $150,000 for his attorney general bid. Based on donors who disclosed their addresses because each gave more than $250, four-fifths of Morrisey's total came from outside West Virginia. An Eastern Panhandle resident who belongs to a Washington, D.C., law firm, Morrisey has amassed more than $108,000 through a series of fundraising events. Three were held in Washington and a fourth was hosted in New Jersey, where Morrisey ran for Congress without success in 2000.
Morrisey cited his smaller-dollar donations Sunday to argue that a majority of the individuals who gave to his campaign are from West Virginia. Campaign finance reports do not list addresses with contributions of $250 of less.
Running unopposed in his primary, Morrisey seeks to challenge Attorney General Darrell McGraw. The Democratic incumbent's report was not immediately available.
Tomblin, meanwhile, faces a low-profile primary opponent, Arnie Moltis, who did not raise enough funds to merit a report. Repeating a trend from last year's special election for governor, a series of 15 fundraisers yielded $628,000 of Tomblin's total for the reporting period. An early March event in Huntington accounted for nearly $98,000 of that. He ended the reporting period March 30 with an $876,342 balance after spending $168,300.