WV Legislature Weighs in on Gubernatorial Election

by Tony Rutherford HuntingtonNews.Net Reporter

CHARLESTON, WV (HNN) -  Members of the West Virginia legislature have introduced legislation that would determine the date and format(s) of the special election for governor.  The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals ruled that a special election must occur before Nov. 15. Left open in the  opinion : The legislature has the power to tweak the procedures.


House Minority Leader Tim Armstead R-Kanawha along with 11 Republican co-sponsors would set a special primary for May 14, 2011 and the special general election for August 6.

Unless the legislature changes the process, the WV Supreme Court ruled that nominees will be determined at political party conventions.

Simultaneously, the decision by ‘former’ Senate President Earl Ray Tomblin to be a full time ‘acting’ Governor has some senators mulling options.  They contend that an ‘acting senate president’ is unconstitutional.

The decision stated (in a footnote) that: “"Our State Constitution does not provide for the office of acting governor. Rather, it simply provides that the senate president shall temporarily act as governor during a vacancy … The senate president does not cease being a constitutional officer when he or she acts as governor. The senate president remains the senate president."

 Now, Sen. Evan Jenkins (D-Cabell) believes the Supreme Court opinion precludes an ‘acting senate president.’ Actually, Senators went that direction to avoid a separation of powers dilemma , if Tomblin were to be both a temporary acting governor and the Senate President. But , Sen. John Unger told WSAZ that a “presiding officer presides over [the Senate] “ in the absence of the Senate President.

Of course, Tomblin would have preferred to have stayed the state’s chief exec until 2012.

And, state taxpayers may prefer just one general special election , instead, of the two tiered approach. Secretary of State Natalie Tennant estimated that a $3 to $4 million per election price tag based on the special primary and election in 2010 to replace the late Sen. Robert C. Byrd.