Tomblin takes oath of office; legislature considers amending term limits

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November 15, 2011

West Virginia

CHARLESTON, WEST VIRGINIA: Earl Ray Tomblin is no longer Acting Governor of West Virginia. The winner of an October 4th special election, Tomblin took the oath of office on Sunday and was sworn in as the state's 35th governor by Supreme Court Chief Justice Margaret Workman.

Tomblin's situation is fairly unique. He was elected to a special, 14-month term. In 2010, then-governor Joe Manchin left mid-term to assume a seat in the U.S. Senate. Because West Virginia does not have a lieutenant governor, the President of the State Senate, in this case Tomblin, becomes acting governor. After some deliberation and confusion, the West Virginia Supreme Court ruled that a special election had to be held.

He faces re-election again in 2012. But unlike most Mountain state governors, if he wins in 2012 he won't be able to run for a second full term in 2016. That is - at least not as the law stands now. The state constitution prevents any person from holding the office for more than two consecutive terms.

A proposal to change that is under review by the West Virginia State Legislature. The measure would ask voters to amend the state constitution to add the elected office of lieutenant governor. The office would be elected together with the governor and serve as a Cabinet secretary unless and until the incumbent would be called on to fill a vacancy.

In order for any amendment of the state constitution in West Virginia to take effect, two thirds of both the state House and state Senate would have to approve the measure, and then a simple majority of voters must approve it.[1][2]

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