WINFIELD -- A former Putnam County circuit judge will not reclaim his seat this year, after Republican voters narrowly chose Joseph K. "Joe" Reeder to lead their party in the Nov. 6 general election.
Reeder will face fellow Hurricane attorney Democrat Robert Leslie in the general election to fill the remainder of retired Judge O.C. Spaulding's term.
Votes from all 47 Putnam precincts were completed around 1 a.m. Wednesday.
Leslie defeated two challengers in the Democratic primary - Rosalee Juba Plumley, a Poca attorney, by only 202 votes. David Hill, a Culloden attorney had 699.
Former Judge Edward Eagloski, who served as a Putnam circuit judge from 2001 until he was defeated by Judge Phillip Stowers in 2008 by a slim margin, fell short 252 votes. Results show Eagloski with 2,472 votes compared to Reeder's 2,724.
Using the same tactic as Stowers, Reeder placed ads and sent mailers using unflattering results of a West Virginia State Bar judicial poll in the final days of the campaign.
In the poll, released in April 2008, Eagloski had the lowest ranking of any Putnam County judicial candidate. His scores included a rating between "poor" and "adequate in the category of Intelligence/Reasoning Ability.
Reeder raised the most money of the judicial candidates, with $22,357 in contributions, according to financial statements in the County Clerk's Office. Leslie wasn't far behind, reporting donations of $18,850.
In March, the state Judicial Vacancy Commission chose three out of four who applied to fill the vacant seat -- Hill, Leslie and Jennifer D. Singletary, a Culloden attorney. Eagloski was the only applicant who was not chosen as a finalist.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has not named who will fill the seat until the election. In the meantime, retired Putnam Circuit Judge James Holliday is handling Spaulding's caseload.
Spaulding, who stepped down after being diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease last year, wrote Tomblin a letter asking Leslie be appointed to fill the seat, Leslie said.
"I took that as a great compliment, I'm the only person [Spaulding] did that for," he said. "My first hearing I was allowed to go to by myself was in front of Hobby Spaulding, and I remember it like it was yesterday...he was always a very civil and genteel judge on the bench, so it's bittersweet. I'd rather continue practicing in front of him."
Leslie told Gazette editors last month he'd be interested in bringing a Kanawha County mediation program to Putnam that allows even the smallest civil disputes to get help from volunteer mediators. Reeder said he wanted to introduce an adult drug court to Putnam.
Republican Steve Deweese, a former longtime Putnam deputy, will face Democrat Bud Lett, of Fraziers Bottom, the Kenova police chief and retired U.S. Drug Enforcement Agent, in the general election after easily defeating Rick Parsons, a former Charleston cop, with 70 percent of the vote.
Deweese, who led the race by a large margin throughout Tuesday night, received 3,814 votes. Parsons picked up only 1,628 votes.