Tomblin Wants A Lieutenant Governor for W.Va.

By: Kallie Cart, The Associated Press Email
By: Kallie Cart, The Associated Press Email
Acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin announced he would like to create a position of Lieutenant Governor, but not everyone is on board because it doesn

Courtesy: West Virginia Legislature

UPDATE: Thursday 1/6 6:00 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The political twists continue in the fight to fill the Governor's seat. On Thursday, Acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin announced he would like to create a position of Lieutenant Governor but not everyone is on board because it doesn't address the issue facing the state right now.

Tomblin says he wants to make sure the state isn't in the situation it is in now again. There have been a lot of questions about the gubernatorial succession process.

Some have raised concern about Tomblin acting as Governor for nearly two years without being elected statewide.

The Lieutenant Governor would step in when any vacancy occurs. Voters would have to amend the constitution to create the position.

"I think that if we can clarify, should this happen in the future, it would be a much simpler process than what we've gone through recently," Tomblin says.

The Acting Governor is calling on a working group to figure out all of the details. The legislature already has a committee studying the issue.

Many say the creation of a new position is not what they were hoping to hear.

"I was quite surprised by the announcement of a working group," Delegate Kelli Sobonya, a delegate from Cabell County says. "It's something the legislature is already working on."

"Frankly, at first blush, I don't favor changing the Constitution for an event that happens every hundred years," Senator Erik Wells, a Democrat from Kanawha County says.

The lawmakers says they hoped Tomblin would call a special election for this year so voters can choose a governor.

"I thought he would address the issue and call a special election in sometime in the summer," Senator Wells says.

"I was in hopes that he would do the right thing and call a special election so we could have a vote in 2011," Delegate Sobonya says.

Tomblin stands by his interpretation of the Constitution and says the issue doesn't have to go before the voters until the next scheduled election in 2012.

The Supreme Court is set to hear a case challenging Tomblin's interpretation next week.

Some lawmakers say they are willing to consider the idea of creating a Lieutenant Governor position as long as it doesn't cost too much money. Tomblin says the person in the position would fill other duties too.

House Speaker Rick Thompson is opposed to the creation of a Lieutenant Governor position because it does not deal with the crisis at hand.



ORIGINAL STORY
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- Acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin says he believes West Virginia should elect a lieutenant governor to take over when its chief executive departs.

The West Virginia Constitution now gives the job to Tomblin as state Senate president. But an administration official tells The Associated Press that Tomblin plans to ask voters to amend the constitution and change that.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to speak publicly.

Tomblin has called a Capitol news conference for early Thursday afternoon to discuss gubernatorial succession.

The official also said Tomblin will assemble a panel of top lawyers to aid his proposal.

This wouldn't resolve the pending state Supreme Court challenge triggered when Tomblin succeeded a newly elected U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin in November. The case seeks an election for governor this year.


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