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A Primary Lesson in Power

February 14, 2011 - Joselyn King
Acting West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin might have been kicked out as Senate president -- and out of the governor's office -- had he not changed his tune about the establishment of an acting senate president's position in the Senate, a source close to the Senate tells me.

Seems the Senate was split 17-17 early last month as the session began on whether members should change their rules and place control of the chamber into the hands of an acting Senate president and Sen. Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall, while the Senate president serves as governor.

It was well-known that Tomblin and his Senate allies opposed the rule change. But before a vote on the rule change was to come before members, there would first be a vote on who would be Senate president.

Tomblin has served as Senate president since 1995. And under the West Virginia Consitution, the senate president became governor when the former governor, now U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., left to take his elected seat in Washington.

The source tells me those on Kessler's side told Tomblin they would not vote for him as Senate president if he chose not to support the acting senate rule. The move would have pushed Tomblin out as acting govenor, and actually placed House Speaker Richard Thompson, D-Wayne, in the role, the source tells me.

Tomblin, Kessler and Thompson are all now Democratic candidates for governor.

Now how well will everybody play together after the May 14 special primary election?


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