VIDEO: Tomblin Announces Plans as Acting Governor of West Virginia
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State Senate President and Lt. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (D-Logan) announced today that he would act as both acting governor of West Virginia and senate president, while turning over the day-to-day running of the senate to Senate Pro Tempore Joe Minard (D-Harrison).
Tomblin announced his plans for a “smooth transition” at a Monday morning press conference in the Governor’s Reception Room at the State Capitol Complex in Charleston, W.Va. Tomblin was greeted by a 100-plus crowd of media, state workers, legislators, and well-wishers.
In his opening remarks, Tomblin said he has always been ready for his role as acting governor.
“Our Constitution and our laws contemplate a clear and organized transfer of power,” said Tomblin. “The Constitution states that, when a vacancy arises in the offices of governor, the senate president shall act as governor until a vacancy is filled. Throughout my tenure as Senate President, I have always been mindful of this responsibility.”
Last week Tomblin announced the names of some of his top staffers, including Chief of State Rob Alsop, Deputy Chief of Staff Erica Mani, General Counsel Kurt Dettinger, and Communications Director Jacqueline Proctor. Tomblin said other announces on cabinet positions will be announced in the coming days, but said it would be a mix of new and old faces.
“I have spent countless days examining the work and tasks of the Governor’s office, “said Tomblin. “I have had the assistance of those who are currently in government along with others whose vantage point and understanding of government I respect and trust.”
Current Gov. Joe Manchin was elected last week to fill the unexpired term of U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd. Counties across the state started canvassing the vote today, with the West Virginia Secretary of State‘s office expected to certify the vote around Nov. 15. The transfer of power from Manchin to Tomblin is expected to take place around that time.
Tomblin has no plans to try to govern both the legislative and executive branches. While Tomblin will still remain senate president, the senate pro tempore will manage the day-to-day duties in the senate.
“I will spend my time as Governor running the executive branch of government,” stated Tomblin. “I do not plan on presiding over or voting in the Senate. Our Senate rules contemplate that when the Senate President is unavailable, the President Pro Tempore presides over the senate.”
When asked whether he would call for a special election before 2012 to allow voters to elect a new governor, Tomblin said he would stick with the 2012 time frame, with a special election running alongside the general election for governor in Nov. 2012. However, he left it up to the Legislature to decide whether to hold an election sooner than that. He encouraged the public to let their legislators know if they wanted an earlier special election.
“I am well aware of the strong desires of some wishing to have an election prior to 2012,” said Tomblin. “For me, it comes down to what the people want. If my fellow West Virginians express and overwhelming desire to have a quick election, I will work with the Legislature to make that a reality. We must, however, take a reasoned and thoughtful approach to our decision-making process. We must keep in mind the potential costs, timing, and what is in the best interests of West Virginia.”
There are several State Senators who have expressed an interest in running for governor, either in 2012 or as soon as a special election is called, including Jeffrey Kessler (D-Marshall), Brooks McCabe (D-Kanawha) and Clark Barnes (R-Randolph). Tomblin himself announced he would be a candidate in 2012. Richard Thompson (D-Wayne), Speaker of the House of Delegates, has said he would run, and is the most vocal voice for having a special election as soon as possible. State Treasurer John Perdue is also running.
When asked how he would govern under the title of acting governor, Tomblin pointed to his many years of experience in the State Senate, including helping put the state on a good financial footing, balancing the budget, and lowering taxes. Tomblin plans to continue these successes, as well as make education a priority this year.
“West Virginia is a tremendous state with an even greater potential,” said Thompson. “Her horizon looks bright and her people are poised for success. “I look forward to the coming days and weeks as we create a smooth transition to continue to take care of the business of our great state and as we all pull together to put West Virginia first.”
Watch the full press conference below:
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Tags: Acting Governor, Brooks McCabe, Earl Ray Tomblin, Joe Manchin, John Raese, Robert Byrd, State Senate, West Virginia, West Virginia Senate