The Times West Virginian

Breaking News

October 4, 2011

Tomblin wins West Virginia governor’s race

CHARLESTON — Democrat Earl Ray Tomblin overcame weeks of Republican attack ads to win the West Virginia governor’s race Tuesday, successfully distancing himself from the Obama administration and the president’s health care plan.    

Tomblin, who has been acting governor for the past year, will finish the final year of a term left vacant by Joe Manchin, a well-liked governor who stepped down after he won a U.S. Senate seat.

The race was fraught with negative ads from both sides and narrowed in the final weeks. The national parties spent millions of dollars on each campaign.

With 85 percent of precincts reporting, Tomblin had 49 percent of the vote compared with Maloney’s 47 percent, according to unofficial results.

Tomblin, a veteran state lawmaker, fended off questions about his mother’s greyhound breeding business and efforts to tie him to Obama. Republicans were upset Tomblin didn’t join a majority of other states who sued the administration over the health care plan.

Obama lost West Virginia in 2008 and remains wildly unpopular here, but Tomblin got a replay of last year’s U.S. Senate special election, when Manchin beat back efforts to tie him to Obama.

Democrats outnumber the GOP by nearly 2-to-1 in West Virginia, but they are considered more conservative than their national counterparts on both social and fiscal issues, supporting gun rights and cutting taxes.

The Obama ads featured images of the president floating on the screen with Tomblin. One spot asks: “What’s Gov. Tomblin doing about Obamacare? Absolutely nothing.”

Of at least 21 spots that aired, 15 were attack ads. The negative ads turned Dushyant Shekhawat against Maloney.

“He’s not fighting against Tomblin; he’s fighting against Obama. That I don’t like. He should concentrate his run against Tomblin,” said Shekhawat, a federal employee at the National Energy Technology Laboratory.

The link to the president resonated with Mark Gingerich, who voted for Maloney, a millionaire businessman and former drilling company executive who promised to bring more jobs to the state.

“I think it’s important right now to have a conservative Republican governor because the states are going to have to do something together to do away with Obamacare, the socialized medicine,” Gingerich said.

Tomblin, meanwhile, used ads to blame Maloney for sending jobs to Pennsylvania when the drilling firm he co-founded moved there. But the relocation came four years after Maloney sold his shares in the company.

Tomblin campaigned as the rightful heir to Manchin. He said together they helped shape policies that created pain-free balanced budgets and revenue surpluses at a time when other states continued to struggle during the recession.

But Tomblin wasn’t as well known as Manchin, who resigned during his second term. Tomblin became acting governor because of his position as Senate president, a job he held longer than anyone else in the state.

Tomblin drew a contrast between himself and Obama by saying West Virginia was far more economically sound than the country. The state has an unemployment rate below both the national rate and also has begun gradually cutting both business and consumer taxes, while improving its Wall Street credit rating and emergency reserves, points frequently noted by Tomblin’s campaign.

Like Manchin, Tomblin sparred with tougher coal mining regulations from the Obama administration, keeping up a lawsuit the former governor filed against the Environmental Protection Agency’s handling of permits.

Tomblin has represented the heart of the southern coalfields as a legislator since 1974, and the mining industry has long been crucial to the state’s economic health. West Virginia’s Coal Association endorsed Tomblin, and the energy sector was his chief source for campaign cash.

Republicans had angled for an outcome similar to last month’s upset in a New York City special congressional election, in which Obama’s favorability loomed large.

“We don’t want Tomblin back in there,” said retiree Janet Varney, who along with her husband voted for Maloney. “We just believe he will follow Obama’s policies — and we don’t agree with Obama’s policies.”

While West Virginia has had a Democratic governor for the last decade, it has not elected a governor from the southern part of the state since the 1960s. The GOP seized on the region’s reputation for political corruption in this race.

Both Maloney and the Republican Governors Association, which has spent at least $3.4 million attacking Tomblin since late August, used ads to make an issue of a greyhound breeding business run by his mother. They claimed Tomblin wrongly diverted money to a state fund that benefits greyhound breeders.

Tomblin said the breeder with the fastest dogs, not state officials, determines who reaps the proceeds.

Richard Farley, of Morgantown, is a registered Republican. He said he was torn until the last minute.

“It was a rough one because I had a choice between Maloney, who stands for nothing, and Tomblin, who — well, I can’t support anyone who’s ever been involved in gambling,” he said.

“Unfortunately, I had to go with Maloney,” Farley said. “I personally don’t see him getting re-elected. But I can’t personally see supporting someone who made money off of gambling.”

The Obama-themed ads turned him off, too.

“I’m not sure what the president has to do with the gubernatorial race in West Virginia. That’s kind of a non-issue,” he said.

Maloney, a political newcomer, focused on the state’s high poverty ranking and touted his experience as an employer. He vowed to take West Virginia in a new direction by aggressively targeting its tax structure, regulatory policies and court system. He also campaigned on his contribution to the rescue plan that freed the 33 trapped Chilean miners last year, saying he provided drilling expertise.

Tomblin and America Works USA, bankrolled by the Democratic Governors Association, targeted Maloney over whether his businesses paid their taxes on time. America Works devoted at least $2.4 million to negative ads.

Tomblin also touted endorsements from groups ranging from the National Rifle Association and the state Chamber of Commerce to the United Mine Workers union and West Virginia AFL-CIO.

Tuesday’s winner will have to resume campaigning almost immediately to keep the seat: It’s up again in 2012 for a full four-year term.

1
Text Only
Breaking News
  • Eddie Jack Washington.jpg UPDATE: Investigation into 1974 murders starts following Times WV article

    The Windmill murders — a true mystery that has plagued Fairmont for almost 40 years — may have been solved with the arrest of a man in Florida in the triple execution-style slayings of three Fairmont residents.

    February 7, 2013 2 Photos

  • kennedy-rockefeller-DS.jpg BREAKING: Rockefeller won’t seek re-election with PHOTOS

    U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, who came to West Virginia as a young man from one of the world’s richest families to work on antipoverty programs and remained in the state to build a political legacy, announced Friday he will not seek a sixth term.

    January 11, 2013 10 Photos

  • W.Va. BOE affirms superintendent firing

    Citing chronically poor student performance ratings, West Virginia’s Board of Education again voted to fire Jorea Marple as state schools superintendent Thursday after fielding harsh criticism over her dismissal.

    November 29, 2012

  • Board fires W.Va. schools superintendent

    West Virginia Schools Superintendent Jorea Marple has been fired.

    November 15, 2012

  • Unofficial vote totals for Marion County

    The following are the unofficial votes from 76 of 76 precincts reported in Marion County Tuesday night.

    November 6, 2012

  • Former GT mayor pleads not guilty to nine felony counts

    By Debra Minor Wilson
    Times West Virginian

    FAIRMONT — The former mayor of Grant Town pleaded not guilty to nine felony counts in his arraignment Thursday in Marion Circuit Court Division II before Judge David Janes.
     

    October 25, 2012

  • Police investigating bank robbery in White Hall

    The White Hall Police Department is handling the investigation and is being assisted by the Marion County Sheriff’s Department and the FBI. Fairmont City Police provided aid Saturday morning, said Patrolman Caleb Krepps of the White Hall Police Department.

    October 13, 2012

  • Holgorsen inks 6-year deal with WVU

    West Virginia University Director of Athletics Oliver Luck and Head Football Coach Dana Holgorsen have agreed to terms of a six-year contract that runs through the 2017 season.

    August 8, 2012

  • NCAA_sanctions.jpg Video: NCAA announces penalties against Penn State

    The NCAA slammed Penn State Monday with an unprecedented series of penalties, including a $60 million fine and the loss of all coach Joe Paterno's victories from 1998-2011, in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.

    July 23, 2012 1 Photo

  • High court upholds key part of Obama health law

    The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the vast majority of President Barack Obama’s historic health care overhaul, including the hotly debated core requirement that virtually all Americans have health insurance.

    June 28, 2012

House Ads
Featured Ads