Earl Ray Tomblin

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Earl Ray Tomblin
Earl Ray Tomblin 2013.jpg
Governor of West Virginia
In office
November 15, 2010 - Present
Term ends
Years in position 5
PredecessorJoe Manchin (D)
President, West Virginia State Senate
Base salary$150,000
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 6, 2012
First electedOctober 4, 2011
Next generalNovember 8, 2016
Campaign $$8,670,849
Term limits2 consecutive terms
Prior offices
West Virginia State Senate
1980 - November 15, 2010
West Virginia House of Delegates
1974 - 1980
High schoolChapmanville High School (1970)
Bachelor'sWest Virginia University
Master'sMarshall University
Date of birthMarch 15, 1952
Place of birthLogan County, West Virginia
Office website
Personal website
Earl Ray Tomblin (b. March 15, 1952 in Logan County, West Virginia) is the 35th and current Governor of West Virginia. A Democrat, he first assumed the office of acting governor by virtue of his role as President of the West Virginia State Senate in January 2010, and was elected on October 4, 2011 to serve the remainder of former governor Joe Manchin's unexpired term.[1] He won a full, four-year term in the 2012 elections.[2][3][4]

Before being elected governor, Tomblin had been a state legislator for 36 years. He served in the state Senate from 1980 to 2010, representing the 7th District. Tomblin was the longest serving senate president in West Virginia history, having been elected to the position 18 straight years. Prior to that he served in the House of Delegates from 1974-1980.[5]


Tomblin was born on March 15, 1952 in Logan County, WV. Growing up, he and his family lived above a Chapmanville restaurant his parents owned. He worked in the restaurant busing tables before attending West Virginia University, where he earned a bachelor of science degree.[6][7][8]


  • Chapmanville High School, 1970
  • B.S., Business management, West Virginia University
  • MBA, Marshall University

Political career

Governor of West Virginia (2010-Present)

Tomblin was sworn in as Acting Governor on November 16, 2010.[9][10] He became the interim Governor of West Virginia when current Governor Joe Manchin resigned to fill the United States Senate seat of the late Senator Robert C. Byrd.[11][12][13]

Tomblin's plans as acting governor

On November 8, 2010, Tomblin announced that he would act as both acting governor of West Virginia and senate president, while turning over the day-to-day running of the senate to Senate Pro Tempore Joe Minard (D-Harrison). “Our Constitution and our laws contemplate a clear and organized transfer of power,” said Tomblin. “The Constitution states that, when a vacancy arises in the offices of governor, the senate president shall act as governor until a vacancy is filled. Throughout my tenure as Senate President, I have always been mindful of this responsibility.”[14][15][16]

Economic Development and Commerce Committee

In October 2013, Tomblin was appointed Vice Chair of the Economic Development and Commerce Committee in the National Governors Association by NGA Chair Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin and NGA Vice Chair Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper.[17]


Tomblin refused to endorse fellow Democrat Barack Obama in his re-election campaign in 2012 due to what Tomblin called the federal government's "war on coal."[18] After taking office in November 2010, Tomblin continued the lawsuit started by the Manchin administration against the EPA for "usurping authority of state DEP to regulate mining." As governor he has led rallies is support of coal and continued to attack the EPA for regulations he sees as federal overreach.[19] In May 2011, Tomblin joined Division of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Joe Miller to unveil the Friends of Coal license plate.[20]

A number of other high-ranking Democrats joined with Tomblin in 2013 in opposing new emission rules put forth by the EPA. Tomblin wrote, "The EPA’s proposed limits on greenhouse gas emissions threaten the livelihood of our coal miners to the point of killing jobs and crippling our state and national economies, while also weakening our country’s efforts toward energy independence."[21][22]

Tomblin was endorsed by the West Virginia Coal Association, who stated, “Gov. Tomblin is a son of the coalfields. He knows coal and West Virginia’s 63,000 coal mining families are in a very real sense his family,” White said. “He knows how important it is to have a job, to pay your bills and provide for your children. He has always stood with us...not just as a ‘friend’ of coal but as one of us."[23]

Food tax

On June 30, 2013, Tomblin announced that the state sales tax on food would be completely eliminated on July 1, stating, “For too long West Virginians have been burdened by a regressive tax on one of life’s basic necessities. The elimination of the food tax allows families to keep more of their hard-earned money.”[24]

Tomblin, in his position as President of the Senate at the time, began the phase out of the 6 percent food tax in 2005 with then-Gov. Joe Manchin. It was reduced to 3 percent in 2008 and 1 percent in 2012. In 2011, Tomblin signed legislation to completely eliminate the tax by July 1, 2013.[25]

It was estimated that residents saved $162 million a year since the beginning of the phase-out.[26] The food tax began in 1989 at a time when the state was $230 million in debt.[27]

Job approval rating

A May 2013 survey by Republican strategist Mark Blankenship showed Tombin's job approval rating at 69 percent, unchanged from two months earlier. Additionally, the poll showed only three percent of voters blamed him for job losses in the state, while 49 percent blamed President Obama.[28][29]

“I’m very pleased and happy to have those kinds of approval ratings,” Tomblin stated.[30]

A nonpartisan study conducted for the Daily Mail by R.L. Repass and Partners found Tomblin with a 51 percent job approval rating.[31]

Job creation ranking

In a June 2013 analysis by The Business Journals, which ranked 45 of the country's 50 governors by their job creation records, Tomblin was ranked number 36 (tie). The five governors omitted from the analysis all assumed office in 2013. The ranking was based on a comparison of the annual private sector growth rate in all 50 states using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.[32][33]

Judicial appointments

As governor, Tomblin is responsible for appointing judges to West Virginia state courts. In West Virginia, the governor makes a judicial appointment to fill a vacancy. The judge serves the remainder of the unexpired term. For an up-to-date list of all of Tomblin's appointees, see Ballotpedia's page on his appointments.

Medicaid expansion

In early May 2013, Tomblin announced West Virginia would expand Medicaid coverage, an option under the 2010 federal Affordable Care Act. Under the plan approximately 91,500 additional state residents would become eligible for insurance coverage. Tomblin became the 27th governor to agree to the expansion.[34] He said he based his decision on the financial analysis which showed the first decade of expansion would cost the state under $400 million, but bring in over $5 billion in federal funding.[35]

Overseas efforts

In June 2012, Tomblin traveled to Japan in efforts to build business relationships. In October 2013, he spent 13 days in Europe promoting investment in the state. The trip included stops in Spain, France, Germany, Switzerland and Italy. It was the first time a West Virginia Governor stopped in France.[36][37]

Presidential endorsement

During Tomblin's bid for re-election in 2012, he refused to endorse President Barack Obama (D) for a second term, saying the president “has apparently made it his mission to drive the backbone of West Virginia’s economy, coal and the energy industry, out of business.” He went on to say, "As a loyal member of the Democratic party and as governor for our state, I will continue to do everything I can, including suing the EPA, to get the president to change the misguided policies that are hurting West Virginians.”[38]

Tomblin also refused to support Mitt Romney (R).[39]

Supreme Court ruling

In early 2011, a Supreme Court battle ensued about when to elect the next Governor of West Virginia. Citizen Action Group and local attorney Thorton Cooper said the state Constitution and state code disagree, and a special election for governor should be called quickly. Attorneys for Acting Gov. Tomblin and House Speaker Richard Thompson disagreed whether an election should be called. Secretary of State Natalie Tennant‘s legal counsel took a neutral position.

Kathryn Bayless, counsel for CAG, said only the court could require the Legislature and Tomblin to act, and that an election is needed as soon as possible. Bayless argued that article 7 section 16 of the Constitution is clear there “shall” be a “new” election for governor in event of an absence. “The people of West Virginia want a new election, and that is what the Constitution provides for,” Bayless said.[40]

West Virginia State Senate (1980-2011)

Tomblin was first elected to the West Virginia State Senate in 1980. He served as Senate President from 1995-2011.[41][42]

Committee assignments


In the 2011-2012 legislative session, Tomblin served on these committees:

West Virginia Committee Assignments, 2011
Government and Finance, Chair
Interstate Cooperation, Ex-Officio
Rule-Making Review, Ex-Officio
Special Investigations, Chair

In the 2009-2010 legislative session, Tomblin served on these committees:

West Virginia Committee Assignments, 2009
Rules, Chair

West Virginia House of Delegates (1974-1980)

Prior to serving in the state senate, Tomblin was elected to the West Virginia House of Delegates in 1974, and then re-elected in 1976 and 1978.



See also: West Virginia gubernatorial election, 2012 and West Virginia state executive official elections, 2012

Tomblin won election to a full term as governor in 2012. He defeated Arnie Moltis in the Democratic primary on May 8, 2012 and defeated Bill Maloney in the November 6, 2012 general election.[43][44][45]

Governor of West Virginia General Election, 2012
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngEarl Ray Tomblin Incumbent 50.4% 284,758
     Republican Bill Maloney 45.7% 258,376
     Mountain Jesse Johnson 2.6% 14,614
     Libertarian David Moran 1.4% 7,653
Total Votes 565,401
Election Results via West Virginia Secretary of State Election Results Center.


Heading into the primary election, Tomblin was endorsed by the West Virginia AFL-CIO's Committee on Political Education.[46]

  • Bluefield Daily Telegraph[47]


See also: West Virginia special gubernatorial election, 2011 and West Virginia state executive official elections, 2011

West Virginia was not scheduled to hold a gubernatorial election until 2012. However, elected Democrat Joe Manchin gave up the seat to join the U.S. Senate in the 2010 midterms. Tomblin took over the office as West Virginia does not have a lieutenant governor, and won the primary election held May 17th.[48]

Links to gambling

During the 2011 gubernatorial election, Tomblin came under fire for his reported connections to gambling interests in West Virginia.

  • Tomblin's mother, Freda, is the owner of Tomblin Kennels, which breeds greyhounds for West Virginia's two dog racing tracks, Tri-State Racetrack and Gaming Center and Wheeling Island Racetrack and Gaming Center. Tomblin Kennels received $263,604 in 2007 from the West Virginia Greyhound Breeder Development Fund, a state agency.[49]
  • Tomblin owned Southern Amusement, a company that owned 640 video lottery terminals at 128 locations in the state until 1995. At the time it was against the law for video lottery machines, known as gray machines, to be able to pay out. Under pressure to end his association with this company, Tomblin sold it to former state delegate Joe Ferrell, a family friend. Ferrell was indicted June 8, 2009, on 48 counts, including racketeering, mail fraud, and obstruction, by United States Attorney Charles T. Miller.[50][51]
  • Executives associated with the Mountaineer RaceTrack and Gaming Resort gave $2,000 to Tomblin's 2008 senate campaign.[50]
  • Tomblin's 2008 campaign was given $1,000 by the Friends of the Track Political Action Committee (PAC), Charlestown Racing, $1,000 from Penn National Gaming PAC; $1,000 from Phil Reale, attorney for the West Virginia Limited Video Lottery Retailers Association; and $850 from Linda Knowles, owner of K & K Music, a video lottery business.
  • Executives associated with Wheeling Island Racetrack and Gaming Center gave a total of $4,000 to the 2008 campaign. Wheeling Island Racetrack was owned by Delaware North, whose chair and CEO at the time was Jeremy M. Jacobs; Jacobs and his two sons gave a cumulative total of $4,000 in 2008 to the Tomblin campaign.[50]
  • General election

The West Virginia special gubernatorial election was held on October 4, 2011.[52]

Governor of West Virginia, 2011
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngEarl Ray Tomblin Incumbent 49.6% 149,202
     Republican Bill Maloney 47% 141,656
     Mountain Party Bob Henry Baber 2% 6,083
     Independent Marla Ingels 1% 2,875
     American Third Position Harry Bertram 0.4% 1,111
     Write-In Phil Hudok 0% 76
     Write-In Donald Lee Underwood 0% 54
     Write-In John R. "Rick" Bartlett 0% 27
Total Votes 301,084
Election Results via West Virginia Secretary of State

  • Primary election

Acting Governor of West Virginia Tomblin won the Democratic seat for the November 2011 special election following a 40.37% win in the May 17 primary. Tomblin faced five Democrats in the primary.

Governor of West Virginia Democratic Primary, 2011
Candidate Vote % Votes
Green check mark transparent.pngEarl Ray Tomblin Incumbent 40.4% 51,348
Rick Thompson 24.1% 30,631
Natalie Tennant 17.4% 22,106
John Perdue 12.6% 15,995
Jeffrey Kessler 5.2% 6,550
Arnie Moltis 0.4% 481
Total Votes 127,111


Tomblin's endorsements in 2011 included:

  • Bluefield Daily Telegraph[53]
  • Charleston Regional Chamber of Commerce[54]
  • National Rifle Association[55]
  • West Virginia Business and Industry Council[56]
  • West Virginia Chamber of Commerce[57]
  • West Virginia Coal Association[58]


Tomblin's senate seat was not up for election in 2010, yet Tomblin made plans to turn over his position as president of the senate to Joe Minard as Tomblin steps in as Governor of West Virginia.[59]


On November 4, 2008, Earl Ray Tomblin won re-election to the West Virginia State Senate, District 7.[60]

Campaign donors

Comprehensive donor information for Tomblin is available dating back to 2000. Based on available campaign finance records, Tomblin raised a total of $8,670,849 during that time period. This information was last updated on May 7, 2013.[61]

Earl Ray Tomblin's Campaign Contribution History
Year Office Result Contributions
2012 Governor of West Virginia Won $3,454,252
2011 Governor of West Virginia Won $4,210,524
2010 West Virginia State Senate Not up for election $0
2008 West Virginia State Senate Won $418,179
2006 West Virginia State Senate Not up for election $23,819
2004 West Virginia State Senate Won $355,332
2000 West Virginia State Senate Won $208,743
Grand Total Raised $8,670,849


Tomblin won re-election to the position of Governor of West Virginia in 2012. During that election cycle, Tomblin raised a total of $3,454,252.


Ballotpedia collects information on campaign donors for each year in which a candidate or incumbent is running for election. The following table offers a breakdown of Earl Ray Tomblin's donors each year.[62] Click [show] for more information.



Tomblin v. Maloney for Governor
Poll Earl Ray Tomblin Bill MaloneyUndecidedMargin of ErrorSample Size
Charleston Daily Mail by R.L. Repass & Partners
(August 22-25, 2012)
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to editor@ballotpedia.org.


Tomblin and his wife, Joanne, have one son together. Joanne is the president of Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College.[50]

In July 2009, the National Conference of State Legislatures awarded Tomblin its 2009 Excellence in State Legislative Leadership Award.[63]

Recent news

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Some of the stories below may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of Google's news search engine.

Earl Ray Tomblin - Google News Feed

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See also

External links

Suggest a link


  1. Huffington Post.com, "West Virginia election results," October 4, 2011
  2. Office of the West Virginia Governor, " About," accessed June 28, 2013
  3. Facebook, "Earl Ray Tomblin," accessed June 28, 2013
  4. Southern Governors Association, "Governor Tomblin," accessed July 6, 2013
  5. Earl Ray Tomblin, "Earl Ray," accessed April 29, 2013
  6. Project Vote Smart, "Governor Earl Ray Tomblin's Biography," accessed June 28, 2013
  7. Twitter, "Earl Ray Tomblin @ertwv," accessed July 6, 2013
  8. Politico.com, "Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin," accessed July 6, 2013
  9. West Virginia Watchdog, "VIDEO: Acting Gov. Tomblin Takes Oath of Office," November 16, 2010
  10. Democratic Governors Association, "Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (WV)," accessed July 22, 2013
  11. Flickr, "Governor Earl Ray Tomblin," accessed July 6, 2013
  12. On the Issues, "Earl Ray Tomblin," accessed July 6, 2013
  13. National Governors Association, "West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin," accessed July 6, 2013
  14. "VIDEO: Tomblin Announces Plans as Acting Governor of West Virginia," West Virginia Watchdog, November 8, 2010
  15. West Virginia Public Broadcasting, "Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin delivers inaugural address," January 14, 2013
  16. Twitter, "Earl Ray Tomblin," accessed June 28, 2013
  17. NGA News Release NGA Chooses New Committee Leadership, E-mail communication to Kristen Mathews October 23, 2013
  18. Bloomberg, "`War on Coal:’ Hold on, Earl Ray," September 21, 2012
  19. Earl Ray Tomblin, "Earl Ray Tomblin's Clear Record on Coal," accessed July 29, 2013
  20. Huntington News, "Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin Unveils 'Friends of Coal' License Plate," May 6, 2011
  21. Behind the Plug, "Democrats Uniting Against Coal Regulations," June 7, 2013
  22. Bluefield Telegraph, "Fighting for coal — W.Va. lawmakers heading to Washington," July 28, 2013 (dead link)
  23. Earl Ray Tomblin, "West Virginia Coal Association endorses Earl Ray Tomblin"
  24. Office of the West Virginia Governor, "Governor Tomblin Announces Food Tax To Be Eliminated July 1, 2013," June 30, 2013
  25. Charleston Daily Mail, "Food tax ends, phase-out began in 2005," July 1, 2013
  26. WSAZ, "West Virginia Eliminating Food Tax July 1st," July 1, 2013
  27. TimesWV, "Elimination of food tax helps keep money in people’s pockets," July 3, 2013 (dead link)
  28. West Virginia Metro News, "Poll numbers show Manchin, Capito, Tomblin, Tennant strength," May 9, 2013
  29. Charleston Daily Mail, "Gov. Tomblin is rolling in political capital," May 16, 2013
  30. West Virginia Metro News, "Gov. Tomblin likes the numbers," May 9, 2013
  31. Charleston Daily Mail, "Manchin's approval rating declines in W.Va. poll," August 30, 2013
  32. The Business Journals, "Governors and jobs: How governors rank for job creation in their states," June 27, 2013
  33. The Business Journals, "How state governors rank on their job-growth record," June 27, 2013
  34. Huffington Post, "West Virginia Medicaid Expansion: Earl Ray Tomblin Agrees To Expand Program," May 2, 2013
  35. Public News Service, "Tomblin Says Medicaid Expansion Healthy for WV," May 3, 2013
  36. West Virginia Metro News, " Governor heading to Europe," October 1, 2013
  37. West Virginia Gazette, "Tomblin optimistic about results of European trade trip," October 21, 2013
  38. CNS News, "WV Democratic Governor Not Backing Obama," May 2, 2012
  39. The Blaze, "Democratic West Virginia Governor Won’t Endorse Obama," May 2, 2013
  40. Watchdog.org, "W.Va. Supreme Court Hears Arguments for Gubernatorial Special Election," January 12, 2011
  41. West Virginia Legislature, "SENATE PRESIDENT & LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR EARL RAY TOMBLIN," accessed July 22, 2013
  42. Charleston Gazette, "Who is Earl Ray Tomblin?," November 13, 2010
  43. WDTV.com, "Tomblin, Maloney to face off again in November," May 8, 2012
  44. West Virginia Secretary of State, "Election Results" accessed November 6, 2012
  45. Stateline, "Earl Ray Tomblin Has Inside Track in Race for Governor of West Virginia," May 12, 2011
  46. Herald-Dispatch, "W.Va. candidates receive endorsements," March 8, 2012
  47. Bluefield Daily Telegraph, "Endorsement: Governor of West Virginia, Democrat Earl Ray Tomblin," October 29, 2012
  48. Huffington Post, "West Virginia Election Results 2011: Earl Ray Tomblin Projected Winner, Bill Maloney Defeated In Race For Governor," October 5, 2011
  49. Wheeling News Register, "Breeders Cash In," August 10, 2008
  50. 50.0 50.1 50.2 50.3 West Virginia Examiner, "More Tomblin Connections," July 29, 2009 (timed out)
  51. West Virginia Examiner, "Missed Connections in Ferrell Case"
  52. Official results; West Virginia Secretary of State
  53. Bluefield Daily Telegraph, "Endorsement: Democrat Earl Ray Tomblin, W.Va.’s gubernatorial election," September 25, 2011
  54. Charleston Regional Chamber of Commerce, "The CHARLESTON REGIONAL CHAMBER OF COMMERCE ENDORSES EARL RAY TOMBLIN FOR GOVERNOR," August 31, 2011
  55. The InterMountain, "NRA endorses Earl Ray Tomblin," August 22, 2011
  56. West Virginia Trucking, "WV Business & Industry Council Endorses Earl Ray Tomblin for Governor of West Virginia," May 2, 2011 (dead link)
  57. West Virginia Watchdog, "West Virginia Chamber of Commerce Endorses Tomblin," September 7, 2011
  58. Earl Ray Tomblin, "West Virginia Coal Association Endorses Earl Ray Tomblin," 2011
  59. West Virginia official list of 2010 candidates
  60. West Virginia Election Results
  61. Follow the Money, " Career fundraising for Earl Ray Tomblin," accessed May 7, 2013
  62. Follow the Money.org, "Home," accessed February 17, 2015
  63. NCSL, "Mountain State Lawmaker Reaches Summit," July 21, 2009 (dead link)
Political offices
Preceded by
Joe Manchin (D)
Governor of West Virginia
Succeeded by
Preceded by
West Virginia State Senate
Succeeded by
Preceded by
West Virginia House of Delegates
Succeeded by