The West Virginia Legislature has finally settled on primary and general election dates for the special gubernatorial election this year: both the state House and Senate passed compromise legislation that set the primary date at May 14 and the general election date for Oct. 4. Acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (D) indicated he will sign off on the compromise.
The earlier primary date -- Tomblin originally proposed a June 20 primary -- could potentially put gubernatorial candidates who are currently legislators at a disadvantage for campaigning. The Legislature is slated to be in session for another six weeks, giving those candidates an abbreviated campaign schedule.
On Democratic side, the truncated schedule affects Tomblin, state House Speaker Rick Thompson (D), acting state Senate president Jeff Kessler (D); and on the GOP side, state Sen. Clark Barnes (R) and Del. Patrick Lane (R). There are also more potential candidates on both sides serving in the legislature.
Kessler dismissed the issue to the Charleston Gazette. "It's no different than any other election we would run in," he said.
It's been a bumpy road to getting the dates set. After Gov. Joe Manchin (D) was elected senator last year, it was unclear whether an election to replace him would be held this year or in 2012. In January, the state Supreme Court of Appeals ruled that the election would be held this year, which was followed by debate over whether nominees would be picked via party conventions or primaries. Once popular opinion held that a primary was best, the House and Senate proposed different dates for the election. Finally, the election confusion is ending and the campaign can start.