COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP/SCRN/WVOC) - Jean Toal has won re-election as chief justice of South Carolina.

Well, I think it expresses confidence in what I'm trying to complete, particularly in terms of automation of the court system,” Toal told the South Carolina Radio Network.  “And I really appreciate the General Assembly's confidence in me for that.”

State lawmakers today voted 95 to 74 to elect Toal over Associate Justice Costa Pleicones to lead the South Carolina Supreme Court.

Pleicones surprised the state's legal community last year when he said he would challenge Toal in her pursuit of a new term.

The two have served together since 2000, when Toal became the first female chief justice after 12 years on the court.

Pleicones – then a circuit court judge – was elected to serve Toal's unexpired term.

He says he hopes to run for the Chief Justice job again before he retires, and he sees no problem working together after today's election.

Not for me and I don't think for her.  I mean, we're professionals and we have to go back today and decide three cases that we heard on oral argument today.  So, this changes really nothing in the professional relationship at all,” Pleicones said.

South Carolina has a mandatory judicial retirement age of 72.

Toal is 70, and she has said she'll retire at the end of 2015.  Pleicones is 69, and his current term expires in 2016.