State Senate passes compromise election bill

By Jessica M. Karmasek | Feb 2, 2011

Thompson

Tomblin

CHARLESTON -- The state Senate has approved a so-called "compromise bill" that would keep intact the House's date for a special primary election, according to reports.

MetroNews' Hoppy Kercheval reported that, under the bill, the primary would be held May 14.

However, the bill keeps the Senate's date for the special gubernatorial election, which is Oct. 4.

On Tuesday, both chambers suspended the constitutional rule requiring that a bill be read on three separate days to speed up voting.

Acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has said he would agree to whichever dates make the final bill.

Tomblin previously issued a proclamation on Jan. 21 calling for a special gubernatorial election on Oct. 4 and June 20 -- West Virginia Day -- for a primary.

His proclamation was in line with a ruling issued by the state Supreme Court on Jan. 18 that West Virginians will elect a new governor this year.

Tomblin, who took over for now-U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, who resigned with more than a year left in his term, had argued that an election wasn't needed until 2012. However, now, according to the Supreme Court ruling, a governor must be elected by Nov. 15.

Both bills also are in line with Tomblin's wish -- and that of most other state leaders -- that a primary be held instead of a nominating convention.

Thompson said in a statement Monday that House members took into consideration the benefits of holding a nominating convention, including its savings to taxpayers.

According to the Secretary of State's Office, if nominations were done by the convention process, the three major parties -- Democratic, Republican and Mountain -- each would bear the cost of their own conventions. Counties then would pay for the gubernatorial election.

That, Secretary of State Natalie Tennant has said, could cost $3 million to $4 million.

If a primary were held instead of a convention, the cost to counties could increase by another $3 million to $4 million, Tennant has said.

Despite the cost, Thompson said delegates agreed that a speedy primary and general election were "most appropriate."

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