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Former W.Va. Gov. Tomblin’s Capitol portrait unveiled


For the Williamson Daily News

CHARLESTON, W.Va. —  Growing up in Logan County, Earl Ray Tomblin never imagined a portrait of himself would hang on the walls of the state Capitol.

“I don’t think most of us knew what we were going to be doing,” Tomblin said

West Virginia’s 35th governor, Tomblin’s official portrait, which will hang in the Governor’s Reception Room opposite Joe Manchin, was unveiled Friday. The portrait of Gov. Bob Wise will be moved to the Hall of Governors in the State Capitol.

Earl Ray Tomblin, West Virginia’s 35th governor, stands with Chris Stadelman, who served as chief of staff for Tomblin, to display Tomblin’ portrait that will hang on the walls of the state Capitol.
Tomblin’s official portrait will hang in the Governor’s Reception Room opposite Joe Manchin. The portrait of Gov. Bob Wise will be moved to the Hall of Governors in the State Capitol.

In an extremely life-like painting, Tomblin is standing in front of the wood paneling of the Governor’s office. The state flag hangs beside him.

The portrait was done by West Virginia University associate professor of painting Naijun Zhang. Tomblin asked to Zhang to bring his tools with him during the unveiling to show how amazing just five little brushes could turn into the work of art behind him.

Tomblin’s more than 40 years of service to the Mountain State began in 1974 when he was elected to the House of Delegates at the age of 22.

The first of his family to go to college, Tomblin was in his last semester at West Virginia University when he just decided to throw his hat into the race.

“I had come home for Christmas break and was thinking in about four months I would have a bachelor’s degree from WVU and I had no idea what I was going to do,” Tomblin said. “It was the time filings were going on, and I decided why don’t I just get into this House of Delegates race.”

Tomblin went on to serve six years in the House before being elected to the Senate in 1980, where he stayed for 32 years. Eventually elected to be Senate President, he broke the record for longest serving president by holding the position for 17 years.

Tomblin became acting governor on Nov. 15, 2010, after former Gov. Joe Manchin was elected to succeed the late Robert C. Byrd in the U.S. Senate. That made Tomblin the second Senate president to serve as governor.

In a special election in October 2011, he defeated Republican businessman Bill Maloney to serve the remainder of Manchin’s unexpired term. He was elected to a full four-year term in 2012, defeating Maloney for a second time.

In total, Tomblin served the state for a quarter of its history.

In that time, Tomblin said a few accomplishments stand out: coming out better after the medical malpractice crisis in 2001, fixing worker’s compensation and paying down the state’s pensions to where it is now nearly fully funded.

“In my last three years, I cut nearly half a billion dollars and reduced spending for the state,” Tomblin said. “Had I not done that, with some of the issues we are having now, it would have been really tough.”

Gov. Jim Justice said it was an honor to give Tomblin and his wife Joanna just a sprinkle of their due.

“I can’t honor them any more than to say thank you for who you are,” Justice said.


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