CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin says he has been asked about running for Congress, and hasn’t decided either way yet.
The Logan County Democrat told The Associated Press he has been approached about vying for the 3rd Congressional District seat next year. The Southern West Virginia seat is occupied by freshman Republican Rep. Evan Jenkins.
Tomblin said he hasn’t made “any final decisions on anything yet,” adding that he’s keeping the door open.
Tomblin can’t run for governor again in 2016, because the state constitution prohibits a governor serving three consecutive terms. As state Senate president, Tomblin became governor when Joe Manchin vacated the office to run for U.S. Senate. Tomblin won a special election in 2011 to complete Manchin’s term, and then was re-elected to a full four-year term in 2012.
Last week, Manchin said he would not run for a third term as governor, but would instead complete his U.S. Senate term and run for re-election there in 2018.
Without Manchin and Tomblin, the field for governor is wide open. On the Democratic side, state Senate Minority Leader Jeff Kessler has said he’s considering the race, and changed his pre-candidacy paperwork to reflect that.
At least three high-ranking Republicans — state Senate President Bill Cole, U.S. Rep. David McKinley and state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey — have expressed interest in the governor’s race.
In the race for the 3rd District congressional seat last year, Jenkins defeated longtime Democratic congressman Nick Rahall, in a terrible election year for Democrats at the state and national level. Jenkins changed his political affiliation from Democratic to Republican to run against Rahall.
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