WHEELING - An Independent candidate for the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals in 2012 promises "one of the strongest grassroots campaigns" West Virginia has ever seen.
Allen H. Loughry II of Charleston sees the court as an "independent judiciary," and he knows the court well. He is an attorney who has worked as a judicial law clerk for the state Supreme Court since 2003, and he is presently the clerk for Chief Justice Margaret Workman.
Prior to his employment with the court, Loughry was a senior assistant attorney general - a position that gave him the opportunity to argue more than 20 cases before the state Supreme Court between 1997 and 2003.
He is an adjunct professor at the University of Charleston and has worked as an aide to both Gaston Caperton, the former governor, and Harley O. Staggers Jr., an ex-congressman.
Loughry is the author of the book "Don't Buy Another Vote, I Won't Pay for a Landslide," which details the history of political corruption in West Virginia.
The Tucker County native also has four degrees. After earning his initial law degree from Capital University, he went on to achieve a master's in law and government from American University; a master's in criminology and criminal science from the University of London; and a doctor of judicial science, also from American University.
"I'm a bit of a legal nerd," Loughry said. "I think that's what people want on the Supreme Court. They don't want political judges - they want their judges to be fair, honest and independent. They want people they think will treat a major corporation the same as a bus driver from Chapmanville."
Two seats on the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals will be on the ballot in 2012. As an Independent candidate, Loughry's name won't appear on the ballot until the November general election.
He plans to be a take advantage of the state's pilot program to publicly finance next year's judicial candidates.
Information provided by the West Virginia Secretary of State's Office notes that to qualify for public funding, a Supreme Court candidate must first demonstrate statewide and significant support for his or her candidacy by collecting at least 500 contributions between $1 and $100 from West Virginia registered voters. Those contributions must add up to at least $35,000 and must also come from registered voters in all three congressional districts.
Loughry could receive up to $350,000 for a contested general election, and more public funding is available to candidates whose opponents significantly outspend them with either personal funds or other campaign contributions. Independent expenditures by third party groups can also trigger additional public funding to participating candidates, according to the West Virginia Secretary of State's Office.
"At the end of the day, West Virginia will have a tremendous amount of money in this election," Loughry said. "It should not be about (Barack) Obama, (Sarah) Palin or (Michele) Bachman ... but about electing an independent judge.
"Political party traditionalists will be stunned at end of day," he added. "We will be a well-funded campaign, and we will win a seat on the court."
He said he will campaign hard right through Election Day in November 2012.
"It will be one of the hardest grassroots campaigns ever seen," Loughry said.