DettingerCHARLESTON - Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's general counsel, G. Kurt Dettinger, is leaving the state sector. In a statement Wednesday, Tomblin's office said Dettinger filed a letter with the state's Ethics Commission seeking an employment exemption. That is the first step in returning to private practice, the Governor's Office noted. Dettinger joined Tomblin's administration in November 2010, soon after Tomblin became acting governor following former Gov. Joe Manchin's election to the U.S. Senate, filling Sen. Robert C. Byrd's seat. Tomblin previously served as president of the state Senate for 17 years. In October 2011, Tomblin was elected as governor in a special election. He is up for re-election in November. He will again face Republican Bill Maloney. The governor said of Dettinger, "Kurt's leadership and intellect were vital to the success my administration has achieved over the last 18 months. "In addition to navigating the legal aspects of my transition from Senate president to governor, Kurt was instrumental in the development of several key pieces legislation including my Marcellus Shale and mine safety bills. "I extend to him my sincerest best wishes as Kurt re-enters the private sector and I look forward to continuing to work with him on matters of significant importance to our state -- albeit in a different capacity." Tomblin's office said the governor has already tapped Charleston attorney Peter G. Markham as Dettinger's successor. Markham is a partner at the litigation firm Guthrie and Thomas PLLC. He received his undergraduate education at Virginia Tech and holds law degrees from West Virginia University and the London School of Economics. Prior to joining Guthrie and Thomas, Markham served as a law clerk to the Hon. Robert B. King of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.