When I passed the current State Senate President pro tem, Joe Minard, (D-Harrison), on my dreary drive back to Charleston today, I realized I had picked the perfect weekend to head up I-79 to Pittsburgh for shoe and Sephora shopping, as well as socializing with some fabulous friends. Why? Politics in the state of West Virginia will require some skyscraper-high stilettos, and probably a pair or two of flats, this week.
Acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, (D-Logan), will take the gubernatorial oath of office on Tuesday, November 16th, at 10a.m. Taking this oath is not mentioned in either the state Constitution nor the state code. So why is Tomblin taking this oath? Could it be to affirm that he’s the Governor of the State of West Virginia, not just the “acting Governor”? Phil Kabler commented in today’s Sunday Gazette that this could be a “pre-emptive measure, in the event that other senators would stage a coup and elect a new Senate president when the 80th Legislature convenes in January.” (That almost happened a few sessions ago.)
If that’s the case and a new Senate President is elected, technically that person is also acting governor. So taking an oath of office would distinguish Tomblin from the newly elected Senate President. (I’m assuming that kerfuffle would end up going before the Supreme Court.) But if Tomblin is elected Senate President again, will he choose Minard to be Senate President pro tem, or choose someone else? Either way, there are several contenders for the position, such as Majority Leader Truman Chafin, D-Mingo, Senate Finance Chairman Walt Helmick, D-Pocahontas, Senate Judiciary Chairman Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall, and somehow I keep hearing Senator Mike Green, D-Raleigh. (What happened to McCabe or Wells?)
So here’s my two cents (which is about all I have left after shoe shopping this weekend): Green and Tomblin are tight, but I feel Green is a little too “green”, and may his eye on something higher. Helmick’s got several grandchildren and may want to spend more time with the family. Kessler would consider not running for governor if he was Senate President (elected or pro tem), and I hear he thinks he has the votes. If that’s the case, it places him opposite of Chafin, who I feel is the better choice for Senate President (elected or pro tem).
Like I said, it’s going to be quite a crazy week in West Virginia politics. So throw a Clif Bar and an extra pair of flats in your bag during interims this week, you’ll need them.