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Tomblin stays in

By Staff | Oct 5, 2011

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin

Earl Ray Tomblin has been acting as West Virginia’s governor for nearly a year, and on Tuesday voters decided to officially give him the job for another 14 months.

Tomblin, 59, a native of Chapmanville in Logan County, defeated Republican newcomer Bill Maloney of Morgantown by about 7,800 votes in Tuesday’s special election for West Virginia’s open governor’s post. The state’s voters chose Tomblin’s 37 years of political experience over Maloney’s promise to bring a new perspective to Charleston.

With 100 percent of the vote counted, Tomblin had received 150,732 votes across West Virginia, and Maloney, 142,889. Also receiving votes were Mountain Party candidate Bob Henry Baber with 6,119; Independent candidate Marla Ingels, 2,867; and American Third Position candidate Harry Bertram, 1,111.

Tomblin overcame a strong effort by Maloney to paint him as a long-time politician in Charleston who has been part of the problem in West Virginia, not the solution. Supporters of Maloney also attempted to tie Tomblin to President Barack Obama, who is unpopular with West Virginians, and also attacked the Tomblin family business, greyhound breeding.

Democrats outnumber Republicans by nearly 2-to-1 in West Virginia.

The largest portion of Tomblin’s winning total came from Logan County, where he earned more than 90 percent of the vote, gaining 6,701 votes to Maloney’s 561, a 6,140-vote difference. Other southern counties also tracked heavily toward Tomblin; in Mingo County, Tomblin had 3,897 votes to Maloney’s 623, a difference of 3,274; in McDowell County, voters approved Tomblin with 1,809 votes to Maloney’s 504, a 1,305-vote difference. Just in those three counties, Tomblin won by 10,719 votes.

But Tomblin touted the state’s current financial position and rainy day fund that is “the envy of the nation.” Tomblin also touched on West Virginia’s high bond rating, and noted that the state’s food tax is being phased out of existence.

Tomblin added he was “proud to have played a part in getting us to this point.”

“This campaign has not been easy, but we persevered,” Tomblin told his supporters Tuesday night at a rally in Charleston. “We told people about our plans for the future, and our successes in the past. We were able to fight back against those who wanted to bring in extreme ideas and create the turmoil seen in Washington.

“As I have in the past, I will work with members of both parties – across the political spectrum – to do what’s right for West Virginia and our residents. My door will be open to all. I know that the best solutions come after frank and honest discussions, and I look forward to having those.

“I have always tried to do what is best for all of West Virginia, from the Northern and Eastern Panhandles to the Ohio River and the Southern coalfields. We have geographic differences, but we are united by our desire to move our state forward and make it all that it can be.”

Maloney called to congratulate Tomblin before conceding the race at a gathering of campaign backers in Morgantown, where he has been a drilling engineer and became a successful businessman. The political newcomer said he started the race with “zero name ID, zero traction and zero chance.”

“All along the way, the insiders were lined up against us, but that didn’t matter to me because I wasn’t running for them, I was running for you,” Maloney said.

Tomblin will fill out the term left vacant when former governor Joe Manchin resigned last year to assume the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by the death of Robert C. Byrd.

The current governor’s term is up again for election in 2012, and expires in late January 2013.