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Government of West Virginia facts for kids

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WV Capitolbuilding
West Virginia Capitol Building.

The Government of West Virginia is modeled after the Government of the United States, with three branches: the executive, consisting of the Governor of West Virginia and the other elected constitutional officers; the legislative, consisting of the West Virginia Legislature which includes the Senate and the House of Delegates; and the judicial, consisting of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals and lower courts.

The capital and seat of government in West Virginia is the city of Charleston, located in the southwest area of the state.

Executive branch

The chief executive of West Virginia is the governor of West Virginia, who is elected to a four-year term at the same time as presidential elections. The governor is sworn in the January following the November election. A governor may only serve two consecutive terms. A governor may run for a third term, but an interceding election must occur. Democrat Earl Ray Tomblin was elected governor in 2011, in a special election to replace Governor Joe Manchin, who resigned as governor when he was elected in a separate special election to fill the United States Senate seat of the late Robert Byrd.

In addition to the governor, there are five other directly elected executive offices:

  • Secretary of State of West Virginia (currently Democrat Natalie Tennant)
  • West Virginia Attorney General (currently Republican Patrick Morrisey)
  • West Virginia Commissioner of Agriculture (currently Democrat Walt Helmick)
  • Auditor (currently Democrat Glen Gainer III)
  • Treasurer (currently Democrat John Perdue)

Regular elections are held concurrently with the election for governor every four years, but unlike the governor these offices have no term limits.

See also: List of West Virginia state agencies

Political history

From the 1930s through the 1990s, West Virginia's politics were largely dominated by the Democratic Party, and Democrats still dominate most local and state offices. West Virginia also has a very strong tradition of trade union membership.

In presidential elections, the state's electoral votes went to Democratic tradition by supporting Democrat Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996, who won the state by large margins, but the state's five electoral votes went to George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004 (when Bush won by 13 percentage points) and to John McCain in 2008.

The most consistent support for Democrats is found in the coal fields of southern West Virginia (especially McDowell, Mingo, Logan, Wyoming, and Boone counties), while Republicans find greatest success to the east of the Allegheny Mountains, especially in the state's Eastern Panhandle, and in the suburbs near Charleston and Huntington.

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