The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Latest News

November 4, 2010

Tomblin to become acting governor

CHARLESTON — West Virginians essentially chose a new state chief executive when they voted to send Gov. Joe Manchin to the U.S. Senate, but his Tuesday win has also forced to the forefront questions about the succession process.

Senate President Earl Ray Tomblin will become acting governor sometime after officials certify the results of his fellow Democrat’s win. That process begins next week.

But Manchin on Wednesday ruled out calling a special legislative session to resolve legal questions arising from the imminent succession.

Those include whether West Virginia can or should hold a special election for governor before 2012, when the office is already on the ballot. There’s also the question of Tomblin serving in both the executive and legislative branches without violating the constitutional separation of powers.

Several of the Legislature’s top lawyers told a House-Senate study committee last month that the West Virginia Constitution and relevant state law do not allow for a special election before 2012.

The lawyers disagreed over whether the statutes conflicted with the constitutional provisions. They also differed as to whether Tomblin could remain Senate president while also serving as governor.

At a Wednesday press conference, Manchin said there’s not enough consensus among lawmakers to justify a special session. But House Speaker Rick Thompson is among those who want one.

The Wayne County Democrat cited how the Legislature, at Manchin’s request, allowed for the just-conducted special election. The June death of Sen. Robert C. Byrd triggered that action, under the argument that voters should decide who serves out the two years remaining in the late Democrat’s six-year term.

With about half of Manchin’s second term unfinished, Thompson said the need for an early special election is even more pressing. To do otherwise “would be entirely inconsistent with what we just did in the U.S. Senate race,” Thompson said.

Thompson, a lawyer, also questioned whether Tomblin could occupy both posts fully. He said that Tomblin’s primary job would remain as the Senate’s chief, with him acting as governor only to keep the executive branch operating pending the next election.

“Your secondary job would be to act as governor,” Thompson said. “The constitution envisioned that to be a temporary situation.”

Tomblin did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday. The 58-year-old Democrat has represented Logan County in the Legislature since 1974. He became Senate president in 1995 and since 2003 has held that post longer than anyone in state history.

Thompson, like Tomblin, was already among several expected candidates for governor in 2012, as the state constitution bars Manchin from seeking a third consecutive term. The state GOP, which hold a minority of House and Senate seats, also wants a special session.

A South Charleston lawyer, Thornton Cooper, had earlier threatened to sue if Manchin won and there was no election to succeed him in 2011. Cooper argues that waiting until 2012 would disenfranchise voters. Thompson said the Legislature should “iron out the inconsistencies.”

“I think that’s something we should take care of,” Thompson said. “Otherwise, someone will sue and the courts will decide.”

1
Text Only
Latest News
  • twv twins One Hatfield, two actors

    If you shake hands with the cast and crew at Theatre West Virginia after the show, don’t worry if you think you’re seeing double.
    Jacob and James Cline, 12-year-old twins, are a part of the team this year, assisting  with props and portraying Little Troy Hatfield.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Construction begins on Meadow River Rail Trail

    Construction has finally begun on the Meadow River Rail Trail, a recreation project undertaken in a unique partnership between Greenbrier and Fayette counties.

    July 25, 2014

  • AARP reps talk future of Social Security

    The future of Social Security was on the menu at a listening session staged Thursday by AARP West Virginia at the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine.

    July 25, 2014

  • Juvenile petitions sought against teens in Mount Hope B&Es

    The Fayette County Sheriff’s Department is filing juvenile petitions against two Page-area teens after two businesses in the Mount Hope area were broken into early Thursday.

    July 25, 2014

  • US issues 186 mining citations in June

    The Mine Safety and Health Administration says inspectors issued 186 citations at 13 U.S. mining operations in June.

    July 24, 2014

  • Lawsuit filed after Dirty Girl Run canceled

    A lawsuit has been filed against the producers of a run that was canceled in Charleston in which participants were told they wouldn't be issued refunds.

    July 24, 2014

  • Juveniles caught after breaking and entering in Fayette

    The Fayette County Sheriff’s Department is filing juvenile petitions against two teens from the Page area after two businesses in the Mount Hope area were broken into.

    July 24, 2014

  • Saints arrive 1 Saints march into ‘Almost Heaven, W.Va.’

    At 3:54 p.m. Wednesday afternoon the New Orleans Saints’ chartered flight touched the ground at the Greenbrier Valley Airport, and Greenbrier County officially became “Who Dat?” Country. INCLUDES TOUT VIDEO.

    July 24, 2014 3 Photos

  • Broadband panel eyes access to rural areas

    The West Virginia Broadband Deployment Council met far outside its typical Charleston venue Wednesday to hear issues about Internet speeds in some of the state’s most rural regions.

    July 24, 2014

  • Lewisburg official says fuel spill contained, drinking water safe

    Lewisburg’s public works director is confident that a Tuesday afternoon fuel spill 60 miles upriver from the city water system’s intake has been contained and the water is safe to drink.

    July 24, 2014