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West Virginia Democratic resolution puts Tomblin in awkward position

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June 15, 2012

By Lauren Rodgers

Gov. Tomblin has not endorsed President Obama.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has not yet endorsed President Obama's re-election bid and from the looks of it, he doesn't plan to. He has been dodging the question from reporters for several months, always sure to bring the focus back to the fact that he, too, is running for another term in office. "It's very hard to endorse other candidates when you're on the ballot yourself," he told a reporter with The Register-Herald back in March.[1]

It seems that type of blanket endorsement, though, is precisely what the West Virginia Democratic Party expects of its current officeholders even if, like Tomblin, they're running for re-election this year. At the state's Democratic Convention last weekend, attendees passed a resolution that requires all state and national Democratic officeholders to publicly support and endorse everyone on the Democratic ticket - including President Obama.[2] The party's vice-chairperson, Belinda Biafore, says the resolution is just a more formal declaration of a policy that has been long-understood within her party. "This is something we always stress. We always tell everyone to join hands, to get together."[2] She is also quick to point out some of Obama's positions that are more favorable to West Virginia votes, including health care, Social Security and labor.

Tomblin insists he has not made up his mind about how he will cast his own presidential ballot, and he is no more supportive of Mitt Romney than he is of President Obama.[3] Tomblin has a delicate balance to maintain, though. His opponent, Bill Maloney, is trying to link Tomblin and Obama in the minds of West Virginian voters and is receiving fundraising support from heavy-hitting Republican governors Bobby Jindal (LA) and Rick Perry (TX).[4] Tomblin needs to be careful not to isolate his base of Democratic support while maintaining an image and reputation separate from the Democratic president who, in the West Virginia primary election this year, lost 41% of the vote to an inmate from Texas.[5]

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