PARKERSBURG -Sen. Earl Ray Tomblin said the state's financial stability will be his top priority if he serves as the state's acting governor.
Tomblin, D-Logan, acknowledged it's "more than likely" he will be acting governor by the end of the year, assuming Gov. Joe Manchin wins the special election for the late Robert C. Byrd's U.S. Senate seat.
The longtime state Senate president spent the day in Wood County Monday. In addition to visiting Hino Motors' Williamstown plant, Tomblin spent time at Wincore, one of the fastest-growing companies in the state.
Photo by Jody Murphy
State Senate President Earl Ray Tomblin, D-Logan, talks to Sterling Simonton, vice president of manufacturing for Wincore, and Wood County Economic Development Authority President Keith Burdette Monday. Tomblin spent the day in Wood County, including a tour of the Wincore plant, just outside Parkersburg.
Tomblin, along with state and local development authority officials and Mayor Bob Newell, was given a tour of the plant. He came away impressed.
Wincore has hired 120 new employees this year, including 25 in the last few weeks.
"These are success stories," Tomblin said.
Tomblin told officials economic predictions for state government for next year are not good.
"Financial stability of the state will be the top priority," he said.
Tomblin said he and the governor are aligned philosophically in regard to fiscal matters.
"Philosophically, we are the same - moderate fiscal conservatives."
If Manchin wins the special election, Tomblin, as Senate president, would become the acting governor. He would be the first southern governor (south of Kanawha County) to hold office in more than 40 years, since Hulett Smith (1965-69).
Keith Burdette, president of the Wood County Economic Development Authority, served with Tomblin during his stint in the state Senate.
"He's a steady hand," Burdette said of Tomblin.
Tomblin, 58, was first elected to the state Legislature in 1974. In 1980 he was elected to the state Senate, where he has remained. He is the longest-serving Senate president in state history, having first been elected in 1995 when he took over from Burdette.
While Tomblin acknowledged the likelihood of serving as governor, he was coy about a run for a full term in 2012. He put little stock in a recent poll that stated Republican Congresswoman Shelly Moore Capito would soundly defeat any Democratic challengers for the governor's chair.
"Polls are polls," Tomblin said. "It never hurts to have experience."
For the time being Tomblin is focused on the immediate future, including the possibility of serving as acting governor. Tomblin said Manchin could leave office in early November though he could remain as chief executive until after Christmas. Either way, Tomblin said he'll have to concern himself with the State of the State address as well as preparing the upcoming budget.