CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- For the third time since January 2011, Kanawha County Judge Tod Kaufman will officially swear Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin into office as governor in a private ceremony.
Tomblin's current gubernatorial term ends at 11:59 p.m. Sunday. Kaufman will swear him to his first full four-year term at about 12:01 a.m. on Monday.
Tomblin won his first full four-year term as governor in the last year's election on November 6.
"The oath is to require that no gap in succession takes place between the time the governor's term officially ends at 11:59 tonight and when he is publicly sworn in by the Chief Justice [Brent Benjamin] on the Capitol steps later on during the Inaugural ceremonies on Monday afternoon," Kaufman said.
"This ensures a seamless web of authority in the event that the governor would need to exercise official duties between the official terms of office," Kaufman said.
Sometimes state governors must make significant decisions immediately, such as sending National Guard troops to help communities threatened by floodwaters or major storms.
Kaufman administered the first oath of office to Tomblin on January 12, 2011, after Manchin was sworn in as a United States Senator to the seat held by the late Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va.
Tomblin automatically succeeded Manchin, becoming acting governor since he was president of the West Virginia Senate at the time.
Kaufman swore Tomblin in a second time on November 13, 2011, after Tomblin won a special election for governor held on October 4. Tomblin was sworn in shortly after noon that day, immediately after he resigned his position in the Senate.
A public inauguration ceremony was held later that day on the Capitol steps, when Supreme Court Justice Margaret Workman swore Tomblin into office.
No other judge in West Virginia history has sworn a governor into three different terms of office, Kaufman said.
Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjny...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5164.