Tomblin

Thompson

CHARLESTON -- The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals has scheduled oral arguments in the lawsuit over a possible gubernatorial special election for next week.

According to an order entered Wednesday, arguments will be held at 2 p.m. Tuesday.

The West Virginia Education Association and West Virginia AFL-CIO are among those urging the Court to order a special election. Both groups filed amici briefs last month on behalf of the West Virginia Citizens Group. The group filed a petition in November asking for a prompt election to replace Gov. Joe Manchin, who was elected to fill the late Robert C. Byrd's U.S. Senate seat.

Acting Governor and state Senate President Earl Ray Tomblin has said current laws "clearly provide" that the election to replace Manchin as governor should be in 2012. But Tomblin, D-Logan, has acknowledged that he knows many people want an election before that.

Meanwhile, House Speaker Rick Thompson, D-Wayne, has stressed that he believes such an election should occur as soon as possible.

"I believe the fact that the West Virginia Constitution calls for the Senate President to act as governor pending an election indicates the temporary nature of the Senate President's role in the transition and the need for an expedient election," Thompson said.

"If Gov. Manchin's replacement is not chosen until November 2012, for the next two years, more than one half of the term, the people of West Virginia will have a governor they did not select. I don't believe that is what the framers of the state Constitution had in mind."

Thompson said the people of West Virginia "want, deserve and expect" to have a governor they elected.

The citizens group sides with Thompson, contending that Tomblin's dual role as governor and lawmaker indeed violates the state constitution.

According to a notice of argument sent with the Court's order, Tuesday's arguments could last for almost two hours. Those amicus curaie will not be permitted to participate in the arguments, the notice said.

Justice Robin Davis is recused from the case. Preston Circuit Judge Lawrance S. Miller Jr. will be sitting in her place.

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