Senate President Carmichael chooses successor for Ferns

Picture Courtesy/WV Legislative Photography State Sen. Tom Takubo, R-Kanawha, will become majority leader Jan. 9.

CHARLESTON — The president of the West Virginia Senate Monday announced who will be the new Republican majority leader next year.

Senate President Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, announced Monday that state Sen. Tom Takubo, R-Kanawha, will take over as majority leader of the chamber’s 34 Republicans at the start of the 84th Legislature starting Jan. 9.

“I’m thrilled that Sen. Takubo has agreed to step into this critical role in our Senate leadership team,” Carmichael said. “Tom is greatly respected by both Republican and Democrat members. He has a strong understanding of what we need to do to continue moving West Virginia in the right direction.”

Takubo, a Charleston-area pulmonologist, was elected to the senate in 2014. A Logan County native, Takubo is the chairman of the Senate’s Health and Human Resources Committee and was previously chairman of the Committee on Economic Development.

“I’m honored that Senate President Carmichael has put his trust in me to lead the members of our caucus both on and off the Senate floor,” Takubo said. “Our state has come a long way in a short time, but now is not the time to let up. We must be relentless in our pursuit to make West Virginia a great place for families and businesses. I’m eager to get started on building our legislative agenda and hitting the ground running.”

When he’s not performing his lawmaking duties, Takubo manages his own private practice and sees patients at Charleston hospitals.

He is a graduate of Marshall University and the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine. He also completed residency at West Virginia University and a pulmonology fellowship at East Tennessee State University.

During the 2018 general election in November, Takubo was challenged by Terrell Ellis, the owner of a Charleston-based consulting firm providing guidance to non-profits. Takubo defeated Ellis by 5 percent, winning with 52.46 percent of the votes cast according to the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office.

Takubo will replace Ryan Ferns, an Ohio County Republican, who lost a re-election bid to former U.S. Attorney William Ihlenfeld on Nov. 6. While Takubo won re-election by 5 percent, Ferns lost to Ihlenfeld by more than 5 percent, with Ihlenfeld getting 52.88 percent of the votes cast.

The 1st District race was also the most expensive Senate race of the election. According to the secretary of state’s campaign finance reporting system, Ferns received $267,873.84 in contributions while Ihlenfeld received $181,429.23. But Ihlenfeld outspent Ferns with $162.039.19 in expenditures, with Ferns spending $130,838.16.

Ferns, president of the Ryan Ferns Healthplex in Benwood, became the Senate majority leader in 2017. He was first elected to two terms in the House of Delegates in 2010 as a Democrat. Ferns switched from Democrat to Republican in 2013 and challenged Wheeling attorney and former state Sen. Rocky Fitzsimmons, winning with 51.77 percent of votes cast.