- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 21, 2015

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - With U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin out of the mix, possible contenders in a still-blurry field for governor have the same problem - if they run, they lose their current jobs.

A handful of elected officials eyeing the Governor’s Mansion otherwise would be up for re-election next year. Running for governor would mean dropping their own re-elections, resulting in a scramble to fill those high-profile state and federal slots.

A federal prosecutor possibly running would also have to resign as soon as he starts a campaign.

Manchin could have kept his seat if he made a return run for governor and lost, but he officially quashed the idea Sunday. The Democrat is seeking his Senate re-election in 2018.

Here is a look at what some possible candidates have to consider in the 2016 open race, as Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin reaches his term limit.

SENATE PRESIDENT BILL COLE

Cole just finished his first legislative session running the Senate and his first four-year term as senator.

By running for governor, the Mercer County Republican risks losing his elected job and the presidency, which he will have filled for just two years.

Cole owns a variety of auto dealer franchises and is a familiar name and face through TV commercials and other advertising.

He was first appointed to the House of Delegates by then-Gov. Manchin in 2010.

U.S. ATTORNEY BOOTH GOODWIN

Goodwin would have to drop his appointed gig under federal law about seeking political office.

He also has to consider weighty criminal cases on his plate, including the prosecution of ex-Massey Energy coal boss Don Blankenship, slated to go to trial in July, possibly for a month.

Goodwin, a Democrat whose family is close with Manchin, would need to resign before any campaign movement, including opening a pre-candidacy fundraising account.

Goodwin says he’s currently focused on his work as U.S. attorney, though many Democratic operatives consider him a front-runner for governor.

An October trial is also planned regarding 2014 Freedom Industries chemical spill, which contaminated 300,000 people’s drinking water for days. Foreseeably, Goodwin could resign before then, since assistant prosecutors have largely led that case.

Goodwin was appointed by President Barack Obama in 2010.

ATTORNEY GENERAL PATRICK MORRISEY

West Virginia’s first Republican attorney general since 1933 would have to leave the office after one term if he runs for governor.

Morrisey already has $546,000 in his undeclared pre-candidacy account, including a $250,000 self-loan.

Morrisey ousted former longtime Democratic Attorney General Darrell McGraw in 2012. Morrisey also placed fourth in a 2000 congressional primary in New Jersey.

U.S. REP. DAVID MCKINLEY

McKinley’s 1st Congressional District would be in play if he decides to bolt for a run at governor.

A gubernatorial bid by the third-term congressman from northern West Virginia could result in a scramble to fill his seat.

Before McKinley’s win in 2010, Democrat Alan Mollohan filled West Virginia’s northern congressional seat for almost three decades. Mollohan lost the 2010 Democratic primary.

SENATE MINORITY LEADER JEFF KESSLER

Kessler is the only Democrat with a pre-candidacy account open for governor.

He’s also up for re-election, which would mean vacating his leadership position and his northern West Virginia Senate seat.

Kessler, who was Senate president before the Legislature flipped Republican this year, placed fifth out of sixth in a 2011 special election for governor.

No one had to resign to run in that quick turnaround election, resulting in packed primaries.


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