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Loughry said 'positive campaign' made the difference in race

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Many political observers were surprised that Allen Loughry won one of two seats on the state Supreme Court in Tuesday's election -- and that includes Loughry.

But even as he acknowledged that he wasn't sure he would win, Loughry said his campaign made the difference.

"We worked very hard. We ran a very, very positive campaign. I wanted to run a campaign that my son would be proud of, that my father would be proud of and all West Virginians would be proud of," Loughry said this week.

Loughry came in second in a four-way race for the two Supreme Court seats. Incumbent Justice Robin Davis was re-elected. Democratic challenger Letitia Chafin, a former State Bar president, and Republican John Yoder, a circuit judge from the Eastern Panhandle, lost the race, but not by much.

"We got into this as a family. We ran a positive, family-oriented campaign. I am very glad we did it that way. We wouldn't have done it any other way," said Loughry, whose campaign featured a television ad with his young son, Justus.

"People I didn't know they would constantly come up to me and say, 'Thank you for running a positive campaign,"" he said.

"People were upset at the negativity of political campaigns, whether they were the presidential campaign, the Ohio congressional campaign [which had ads on West Virginia television stations] or the West Virginia gubernatorial campaign."

Loughry believes positive campaigns that avoid negative attack ads can help people, like himself, win.

"I think that made a difference. I think politicians often believe that to win an election you have to play from a certain playbook that includes negative campaigning and tearing down the other candidates. It is not my style."

Since Tuesday's election, Loughry said, he has received hundreds of telephone calls, email and phone texts.

"I sincerely appreciate people have taken their time to send me nice comments."

Loughry said he was particularly impressed by an email he received from a young man in Roane County he never met.

"Congratulations," the young man wrote. "I have been waiting so long for 'an average Joe' to be elected to such an important office. The fact that a candidate who spent millions of dollars to promote her campaign was unsuccessful has given me hope that I can be a successful public servant and politician in West Virginia, even though I came from an average working class family."

The young man is a student at West Virginia University, who drove back to his home in Roane County to vote on Tuesday.

Loughry said, "That email means so much to me. I want the next generation of young people, regardless of their political party affiliation, to get involved and realize they do matter."

After initially announcing that he would run for Supreme Court as an independent, Loughry changed his political affiliation to Republican last year. He and Yoder were unopposed in the Republican primary.

In 2006, Loughry published a book titled, "Don't Buy Another Vote. I Won't Pay for a Landslide: The Sordid and Continuing History of Political Corruption in West Virginia." Loughry included several quotes from the late Sen. Robert C. Byrd in the book.

"Byrd told me personally about how, if he started running in recent years, it would have been impossible for him to win an election in West Virginia, given the amount of money in politics," he said. "He grew up with very little money, but was able to go out and meet people and win an election and how impossible that would be today. I want to see things change."

During his campaign, Loughry said he spoke to people the same way, whether they were left-leaning or right-leaning.

"The West Virginia Supreme Court should not be political, People want to feel like they're selecting judges and not partisan politicians.

"Everywhere I went, talked about how judges should follow the law, whether dealing with a large corporation or an individual who is unemployed. Treat everybody the same."

Born in an Elkins hospital in 1970, Loughry grew up in Parsons in Tucker County. He graduated from Tucker High School in 1988, then earned a bachelor's degree in journalism at West Virginia University.

Later, he earned four different law degrees, including a main law degree from the Capital University School of Law in Columbus, Ohio.

"I joked with a friend that I wanted to see how far in debt I could possibly go," Loughry said.

"I grew up in a very average West Virginia household. My father was a construction worker. My mother worked in a shoe plant for a long time and is currently a secretary. They still live in Parsons."

Loughry also worked as an aide to former Gov. Gaston  Caperton and spent seven years as a senior assistant attorney general in West Virginia.

"I also worked for two state Supreme Courts -- in Ohio while I was in law school and then in West Virginia. I worked with more than 20 justices on those two courts."

Loughry said he still drives a 1996 Jeep and lives in a 1,100 square foot residence not far from the Capitol with his wife, Kelly, and their son.

His 12-year term on the Supreme Court will begin at the beginning of January. He will be formally sworn into office in late December.

"I am deeply honored and humbled to be given this opportunity," he said.

Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjnyden@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5164.


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