Relief in Democraticpartyland: Democrat Earl Ray Tomblin Wins West Virginia Governorship
Democrats can take at least a partial deep breath this morning: Democrat Earl Ray Tomblin won the race for West Virginia Governor. If he had lost experts agreed that it would be interpreted as one way: that President Barack Obama was utterly politically toxic and Democrats who’d like to be elected in 2012 might start looking for ways to keep their distance from him:
Democrat Earl Ray Tomblin overcame weeks of Republican attack ads to win the West Virginia governor’s race Tuesday, successfully distancing himself from the Obama administration and the president’s health care plan.
Tomblin, who has been acting governor for the past year, will finish the final year of a term left vacant by Joe Manchin, a well-liked governor who stepped down after he won a U.S. Senate seat.
The race was fraught with negative ads from both sides and narrowed in the final weeks. The national parties spent millions of dollars on each campaign.
With 96 percent of precincts reporting, Tomblin had 50 percent of the vote compared with Republican Bill Maloney’s 47 percent, according to unofficial results.
Tomblin campaigned as the rightful heir to Manchin. He said together they helped shape policies that created pain-free balanced budgets and revenue surpluses at a time when other states continued to struggle during the recession.
“We tried to stay on message as much as possible,” Tomblin told to The Associated Press before addressing his supporters Tuesday night. “We do have a stable budget and a stable economy in West Virginia. That’s what people are looking for.”
A veteran state lawmaker, Tomblin fended off questions about his mother’s greyhound breeding business and efforts to tie him to Obama. Republicans were upset Tomblin didn’t join a majority of other states who sued the administration over the health care plan.
Obama lost West Virginia in 2008 and remains wildly unpopular here, but Tomblin got a replay of last year’s U.S. Senate special election, when Manchin beat back efforts to tie him to Obama.
Democrats outnumber the GOP by nearly 2-to-1 in West Virginia, but they are considered more conservative than their national counterparts on both social and fiscal issues, supporting gun rights and cutting taxes.
What does this mean? It means Obama is not utterly toxic.
He’s just…a political liability.