CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP & WSAZ) -- Acting Gov. Early Ray Tomblin has won W.Va. Democrat special gubernatorial primary election. He defeated five opponents in Saturday's special primary, including several high-ranking state officials.
Meanwhile, Morgantown businessman and political newcomer Bill Maloney has won GOP gubernatorial primary, overtaking seven other Republican candidates. Those included former Secretary of State Betty Ireland, who was the front runner for much of the race.
Tomblin now faces Maloney and Mountain Party candidate Bob Henry Baber in the Oct. 4 general election.
That vote will decide who will finish the term of former Gov.
Joe Manchin (D).
Manchin was elected to the U.S. Senate last year to fill the vacancy created by the death of Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D).
Tomblin carried the vast majority of the state's counties, including some of the home counties of his rivals in the Democratic primary.
He thanked his supporters and also thanked the other candidates in the Democratic field. He called for unity ahead of the general election.
"We know that we have challenges that remain," says Tomblin.
He did not invoke Maloney's name in his acceptance speech but says he's preparing for an "exhaustive general election campaign."
He adds members of his party "need to be united as Democrats...the alternative is too much of a risk for West Virginia."
Tomblin is the state Senate's president. The state constitution
has had him acting as governor since Manchin resigned Nov. 15. West Virginia's Supreme Court has ruled that an elected governor must take office within one year of Manchin's departure.
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