Birthdate: March 15, 1952
Birth Place: Logan County, WV, United States
Residence: Chapmanville, WV
First Elected: 2011
State: West Virginia
Earl Ray Tomblin was born in Logan County, W.Va., and resides in Chapmanville. He received a bachelor's degree from West Virginia University and a master's degree from Marshall University.
He became West Virginia's 35th governor in 2011 after a lengthy legislative career during which he became the longest-serving Senate president in state history.
Tomblin was a teacher when he began his legislative tenure in the West Virginia House of Delegates in 1974. By 1980, he had won election to the state Senate, and by the end of that decade was chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee.
As Senate president, Tomblin became acting governor in 2010 under the state constitution's succession provision after Joe Manchin resigned as the state's chief executive to become a U.S. senator.
Tomblin's father, a former Logan County sheriff, was convicted in a 1970s voter fraud scandal and again in 1992 on a bribery count. His mother operates a greyhound breeding kennel and previously ran a business that rented video poker machines and other devices to bars, clubs and other retail locations. Both businesses have become issues during her son's political career.
Tomblin and his wife, Joanne, have one son.
Earl Ray Tomblin has touted West Virginia's stable government finances, with the state enjoying gradual tax cuts, healthy emergency reserves and relatively painless budget balancing during his time as governor.
The Logan County Democrat also cites his role in creating that climate through his tenure in the Legislature, during which time he became West Virginia's longest-serving Senate president. Then, as now, Tomblin espoused a conservative approach to government spending and tax policies.
But whether West Virginia's economy has improved in recent years _ or at least made sufficient gains _ has become a major topic in the 2012 gubernatorial race. It was also an issue during the 2011 special election for governor _ mandated by the state Supreme Court after Joe Manchin resigned to join the U.S. Senate _ which Tomblin narrowly won.
Hailing from the southern coalfields, Tomblin has long championed West Virginia's mining industry. Like his predecessor, Tomblin has decried the policies of President Barack Obama's administration related to coal. Among other actions, Tomblin has continued the lawsuit filed by Manchin's administration against the Environmental Protection Agency over its treatment of mining-related permits.
Tomblin has sought to distance himself from Obama, who has low approval ratings in West Virginia. Tomblin declined to say whether he voted for his fellow Democrat in the May 2012 primary, and is skipping the party's national convention. Tomblin has said that he has serious problems with both Obama and his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, and has endorsed neither candidate.
Tomblin's 2012 GOP opponent, Bill Maloney, has focused his campaign on the unpopular Obama, seeking to tie Tomblin to the 2010 health care reform legislation and the president's handling of the economy. The Morgantown business owner and drilling consultant employed a similar strategy during the 2011 special election. Maloney also attacked Tomblin as a career politician and focused on his family's greyhound breeding and former video poker businesses. Tomblin won that contest by just under 7,550 votes, or 2.5 percent.
Tomblin had been a teacher and recent graduate of West Virginia University when he ran for and won a seat in the House of Delegates in 1974. After a second, two-year term there, he successfully moved to the state Senate in 1980.
By the late 1980s, Tomblin had risen to chair the powerful Senate Finance Committee. He held that key position until 1994, when he sought the chamber's presidency. Tomblin won the post, and after 2003 held the record for his tenure.
While a legislator, Tomblin met and became friends with then-member of Parliament Tony Blair as part of a U.S.-U.K. exchange program. Their relationship continued when Blair became prime minister, with the two visiting each other in their respective countries on occasion. Tomblin says he and Blair continue to stay in touch.
Source: Associated Press