On Oct. 4, Earl Ray Tomblin was elected Governor of West Virginia for a 14-month term.
The final results indicated that less than 25 percent of eligible voters went to the polls and Tomblin received fewer than 50 percent of that total. In media reports, Governor-elect Tomblin is claiming a "policy mandate."
Being gracious in a very narrow defeat, we have sincerely wished Earl Ray Tomblin well over his term as Governor but that same humility has not been present on the other side. Mandate? A mandate is hardly possible when only 25 percent of eligible voters cast ballots and the winner received less than half the votes. The results of the election indicated nothing resembling a mandate in any sense. A mere 1.5 percent change in the vote would have elected Bill Maloney. Mandate? Really?
Reagan had a mandate in 1984. Manchin had a mandate in 2008. Tomblin? Not so much. Even when Manchin won with 65 percent of the vote, you did not hear him bragging about mandates. The Governor-elect needs to talk less about mandates and more about bipartisan efforts to work with members of all political parties to craft legislation in the best interests of West Virginia's future. This is a time to reach out with humility rather than distract and divide through comments that are clearly nonsense and not credible based on the simple facts.
There is a lot of work to do to build the West Virginia economy in the face of a continuing assault on West Virginia jobs by the EPA and the Obama Administration. We are eager to work in a spirit of cooperation with the new Governor but he should not be deluded in believing he was elected with a mandate to pass "his" legislation. Rather, we need to work together to craft solutions that work for all our citizens.
The campaign is over. It is time to stop the rhetoric and begin the process of building consensus and genuine bipartisan solutions. If the Governor-elect would use fewer words like "mandate" and more words like "bipartisanship," there is no limit to what we can accomplish over the 14 months of his term. We wish him well. It's time to work together.
(Editor's Note: Stuart is chairman of the state Republican Party.)