Earl Ray Tomblin, who has been serving as acting governor of West Virginia since Joe Manchin won the U. S. Senate seat formerly held by the late Robert Byrd, has won the special election to become the new governor. He will serve out the remaining year of Manchin’s term before running for a full term on his own.
The Republican Party, which put up drilling executive Bill Maloney to challenge Tomblin, tried to tie him to Obama and the health care law. West Virginia has been defying conventional wisdom about Southern states for decades, keeping Senator Byrd in his seat for 51 years, as both the man and the region evolved away from the old attitudes and politics of the pre-civil rights era Dixiecrats.
The Republicans forgot the first rule of elections – all politics is local. Trying to defeat an incumbent acting governor who worked with and succeeded a very popular governor by tying him to national politics was a doomed strategy.