COMPLETE COVERAGE: 11/13/11 @ 10:45 p.m.
West Virginia’s longest serving senator, Robert C. Byrd, died June 28, 2010.
At that time, Joe Manchin was West Virginia’s Governor. Last November, Manchin was elected and sworn in to the United States Senate to fill Byrd's seat.
Tomblin was serving as state senate president when Manchin moved to Washington D.C., which meant he was named acting governor of the state.
A special election was held last month, and Tomblin beat republican Bill Maloney by 7,000 votes.
“He is so much the reason why we are where we are -- one of four states that are in the black,” Tomblin supporter Joanna Stewart said.
In his inauguration speech, Tomblin talked about his role in keeping the state's budget surplus, cutting consumer taxes and attracting more businesses to the Mountain State. The focus now is on the future.
“He wants to keep our children here and he wants to give our grandchildren the education they'll need to stay here,” Tomblin supporter JoAnn Yates said.
“Improving our education system, reducing our drug abuse and resolving our OPEB liability,” Tomblin said at the inauguration.
He also pledged to make his decisions reflect what you want.
“My door is always open,” Tomblin said. “I know the best solutions come after frank and honest discussions.”
He’s keeping not only an open door, but also an open mind. This is a promise his supporters plan to hold him to.
“Now there may be a couple of things down the road that I may not agree with, and I’ll let him know that I don't agree with him,” Tomblin supporter Mary Workman said.
Tomblin did pledge Sunday to make decisions based on West Virginia's future and not for the next election, which is only one year away.
Logan County native and America’s Got Talent winner Landau Eugene Murphy was also in attendance. He sang the National Anthem and Amazing Grace.
When speaking of coal, dozens of protesters in the crowd started booing and turned their backs to Tomblin.
They were there to protest mountain top removal.
Some of them say they don't think Tomblin listened, but hope that someone heard their message.
“Why are we here? To make someone listen,” Debbie Jarrell, a protester, said. “That’s the only way that we can get our point across. You have a politician stand up and say that he does not believe a 19 peer reviewed survey?”
Voters may be tired of going to polls because in the last 17 months, West Virginia has had five elections, but only two of those were planned and the other three were special elections.
Secretary of State Natalie Tennant presented legislators with the general election certification Sunday afternoon.
Legislators approved the numbers and Tomblin was officially named governor. This approval had to happen before Tomblin could take the oath of office.
$4 million was set aside for the primary and another $4 million for the general election for governor. The Secretary of State says the state actually came in slightly under budget.
Tennant's office is in the process of reimbursing individual counties that footed the bill initially.
Tennant says West Virginia does have a solid budget and remains in the black.
"It's just part of our process, it's part of our foundation of our democracy, that this is what our freedom is built on," Secretary of State Natalie Tennant said. "The fact that we have elections is the will and the word and the voice of the people who speak who they want to lead them."
As for the cost of the inauguration, that price hasn't been figured up yet, however, it's far less than former Governor Joe Manchin's inauguration which was $442,000.
Tomblin said he wanted to do away with the inauguration ball and parade to save taxpayers money.
Now there's a competition brewing in the West Virginia Senate with a question of who will hold that house's top job.
Democrat Senator Jeff Kessler has served as acting senate president during the past legislative session, since Tomblin became acting governor.
Kessler is considered the most likely choice to succeed Tomblin but there is some opposition.
Senator Brooks McCabe, another Democrat, says he is more fit to unify the senate and help get things done.
"There's different perspectives that we have right now," Senator Brooks McCabe said. "I expect to win, I expect to win with a comfortable margin and I expect to work extremely hard to bring us all back together sooner rather than later."
Kessler responded after learning of McCabe's plan to run and striped McCabe of his position as Senate Pro Tem.
Kessler says he has proven he can lead after the body passed several critical bills during the last legislative session.
"I think I have a track record since I've been doing it for the last 11 months," Senator Jeff Kessler said. "I think we've done good work under very difficult, historic circumstances we found ourselves in, it was unprecedented."
Kessler added, "I've been the first and only acting president in the history of the Senate."
Both McCabe and Kessler say they have the votes to earn the seat when the Democrat majority caucus meets this week.
This is the first real battle for the Senate's top position.
Tomblin was first elected to that post in 1995, making him the longest serving Senate President in state history.
The ceremony was held on the South Plaza of the State Capitol.
America's Got Talent winner and Logan County, W.Va. native Landau Eugene Murphy Jr. performed the national anthem and Amazing Grace.
The Parkersburg Chamber Choir also performed.
Chief Justice Margaret Workman, Supreme Court of Appeals, performed the swearing in ceremony.
After the swearing in was completed, a 19-gun salute was held in Tomblin's honor.
Former Governor and now U.S. Senator Joe Manchin spoke at the inauguration. Manchin called Tomblin "a true public servant" and introduced the Governor as "the right leader at the right time."
Tomblin took the podium and thanked the crowd, Senator Manchin, Senator Jay Rockefeller, family, friends, and all of his supporters, among many others.
Governor Tomblin spoke of his roots in Chapmanville, West Virginia where he said he learned the values that have guided him to where he is now.
"Today I am honored to be sworn in as the 35th gov. of West Virginia. As your humble servant I will work every day to bring people together to do what's best for all of West Virginia," Tomblin said.
Tomblin is no stranger to West Virginia politics. In his speech, he referenced the last year he has served as acting Governor after Joe Manchin filled Robert C. Byrd's U.S. Senate seat after his 2010 death. Tomblin served as President of the West Virginia Senate for 17 years and served in the legislature for 37 years.
Tomblin's slogan during his speech was "Put West Virginia First" and says as governor, he will continue to use that as his focus.
Tomblin spoke of many goals for his time in office, including phasing out the food tax and attracting more jobs, saying "I will go anywhere and do anything to bring more good paying jobs to West Virginia."
Tomblin received applause from the crowd when speaking about fighting the EPA and keeping coal as the backbone of the state.
"I promise that each and every day I will honor your trust and build upon the privilege of being your governor," Tomblin said.
"I will be a Governor for all of West Virginia. My door is always open and I know that the best solutions come after frank and honest discussions and I look forward to having those opportunities," said Tomblin.
Tomblin says while in office, he is open to new ideas, new technology and new ways to make the state better.
"I will represent our state with pride and dignity... We will take a back seat to no one," Tomblin said.
He described the state as strong, resilient and resourceful and pledged to be the best governor he can be.
We will have much more on the ceremony and reception coming up on NewsChannel 3 at 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. and on myZ at 10 p.m.
The ceremony will be held on the South Plaza of the State Capitol at 3 p.m.
A reception will be held at the Great Hall of the Culture Center after the inaugural ceremony.
Kanawha Boulevard will be closed for the ceremony.
We will have a crew at the ceremony and will stream it live here on WSAZ.com. We will also have highlights from the event on NewsChannel 3 at 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. and on myZ at 10 p.m.
Tomblin won by more than 7,000 votes. With all 1,883 precincts reporting, Tomblin took 50 percent of the vote to Maloney's 47 percent of the vote.
Tomblin has served as acting governor since Joe Manchin stepped down in November after he won a U.S. Senate seat. Tomblin defeated Republican drilling executive Bill Maloney and will serve the remaining year of Manchin's term.
"Tonight's result is proof that West Virginians appreciate ideas," Tomblin said during his victory speech. "They value experience, and they want our state to continue to move forward ... I have always tried to do what is best for all of West Virginia, from the Northern and Eastern Panhandles to the Ohio River and the southern coalfields. We have geographic differences, but we are united by our desire to move our state forward and make it all that it can be."
Republicans were upset Tomblin didn't join a majority of other states who sued the Obama administration over the health care plan. Obama lost West Virginia in 2008 and is wildly unpopular here, even though Democrats outnumber Republicans nearly 2-1.
Tomblin is West Virginia's longest-serving Senate president.
During his concession speech, Maloney said, "I was running for you and your family and friends. I was running for you and your neighbors and co-workers. I was running for you and the people you see at church and at the store. I was running for you and all 1.8 million hard-working, freedom-loving, God-fearing West Virginians."
"While our campaign ends today, the fight to move West Virginia forward will continue. I urge you to remain committed to a better West Virginia. You have the power to make sure the politicians work in your best interest, not theirs," says Maloney.
It’s still unclear if Maloney will run again in 2012. Maloney tells WSAZ.com he’s not thinking about a 2012 run at this point.
Meanwhile, the state will have 10 days to certify Tuesday's election results.
Tomblin will have to resign from the Senate and then will be immediately sworn in as governor. Then, a party committee will have to appoint a replacement for him and a special session will be called to elect a new senate president.
Tomblin's term is only for 14 months. Then, he will have to run again in November 2012.
Tomblin will be be sworn in by Nov. 15.
“After tonight, we must put politics aside and move on with our work of making West Virginia an even better place to live,” Senator Manchin said. “I congratulate my friend Earl Ray Tomblin for this well-deserved victory tonight, and I truly look forward to continuing to work with him on our shared priorities for our state. The people of West Virginia have a legacy of balancing their books, living within their means and taking care of the people who most need help – and I know that we will continue that legacy together.”
“Twice in eleven months, the people of West Virginia have said ‘no’ to big money from out-of-state trying to buy an election. They have made it clear that our great state of West Virginia is not for sale.
There is no one that I know of that is better prepared to continue the progress West Virginia has made than Governor Earl Ray Tomblin. And I congratulate him on his victory tonight.
Our staff and volunteers continue to prove that we are committed to winning elections by earning them with hard work. It is so impressive to know that they have made more than 235,000 live person-to-person calls in this election. It has shown that they are dedicated and committed citizens of West Virginia and I thank them.”
The race is also seen as a referendum on President Barack Obama and his health care plan. Acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and GOP candidate Bill Maloney seek to finish out the final year of a term left vacant by U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin. The race narrowed in recent weeks and was fraught with negative ads.
With 30 percent of precincts reporting, Tomblin led Maloney by several thousand votes.
A millionaire businessman and former drilling company executive, Maloney has promised more jobs.
Veteran lawmaker Tomblin has fended off questions about his mother's greyhound breeding business and efforts to tie him to Obama.
Voters hit the polls starting 6:30 a.m. to decide who will be the next Governor of West Virginia.
The polls closed at 7:30 p.m.
Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest election results.
Head over to our Decision 2011 Gubernatorial Election page by clicking here.
A poll released Monday found the race is too close to call.
According to the poll conducted by Public Policy Polling Democrat, Earl Ray Tomblin is leading Republican Bill Maloney only 47 to 46 percent.
Supporters for both campaigns have been out all day urging people to vote.
Whoever wins tonight has to be sworn in by noon on November 15 due to the Supreme Court Ruling that found the state's constitution calls for a special election if a governor steps down. November 15 is one year from the day Joe Manchin resigned as governor and became a state senator.
Polls close at 7:30 p.m. tonight.
WSAZ will have complete coverage of the election results. Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the very latest information.
According to Public Policy Polling, Democrat Earl Ray Tomblin is leading Republican Bill Maloney only 47-46.
The election is set for Tuesday. Both candidates have campaign stops planned throughout the state in hopes of winning more votes. Each campaign held get-out-the-vote rallies in Charleston Monday evening.
Tomblin's lead was 46-40 on a poll conducted at the beginning of September, and he had led by as large a margin as 33 points earlier in the year, according to the poll.
Experts say a lot of money has been spent on attacking Tomblin in the closing weeks of the campaign and that appears to be taking its toll on the governor's image.
Recently, Maloney's campaign and the Republican Governors Association have focused on those attacks on trying to tie Tomblin to President Barack Obama.
"I think it's played a factor, and he is tied to Obama. I mean, he's actively supported Obamacare, and we're going to get rid of Obamacare. We're going to be the next state to sue to get rid of it. Pretty stark contrast there, if you look at it," Maloney says.
According to the pollsters, the change this month has been among Democrats. Tomblin has held onto support from 69 percent of Democrats.
About the poll, Tomblin says he's "really not that surprised. We knew it would tighten up at the end. Fortunately, I'm still ahead in the race and have a great deal of confidence with our broad base of support that we have across the state of West Virginia."
However, Maloney has gained support, as 24 percent of Democrats now plan to vote for him. That's up from 17 percent in early September.
In a news release the polling firm writes, "Maloney has particularly made in roads with conservative Democrats- they now support Tomblin by only a 49-43 margin. Maloney has proven to be a pretty appealing candidate. 44% of voters have a favorable opinion of him to 33% with a negative one. This race is pretty unusual for the current political climate in that the electorate has a positive opinion of both candidates. But the momentum has been exclusively on Maloney's side over the course of the last 5 months."
Statement from Michelle Yi, spokesperson for the Bill Maloney campaign
“Clearly, Bill Maloney’s message of being an honest leader who will create jobs is resonating all across the state. Bill is the only proven job creator and honest leader in this race. While Tomblin will campaign with Obama, Bill will actively campaign against him. While Tomblin is happy with the status quo of being ranked dead last in labor force participation, Bill is ready to move the state forward. Our campaign is confident that voters will go to the polls tomorrow and vote for Bill Maloney to be West Virginia's next governor.”
Statement from Chris Stadelman, spokesperson for Earl Ray Tomblin's Campaign
"We always knew this race was going to be close. Bill Maloney and his allies have spent more than $5 million attacking and lying about Earl Ray Tomblin, so it's not a surprise that it is closer. Some people seem to think this race is about 2012 and they're using Bill Maloney to send a message. We're optimistic that West Virginians will remember this race is about what's best for our state, and we think we will win tomorrow night."