Tomblin will need help in this tug of war, but this is his year. He may never have more power.
The state constitution allows a governor to serve only two consecutive terms, and Tomblin is beginning his second. He won a special election in 2011 to finish the term Manchin vacated.
So the clock is ticking. Let's hope Tomblin can manage state government effectively all four years, but wrangling the Legislature will get more difficult as more members consider him a lame duck and some even entertain hopes of succeeding him.
From the audit, Tomblin must choose the recommendations most likely to make a difference, then fight for their passage.
This governor is a low-key fellow who does not wage his battles in public. But some fairly significant changes took place during his historically long tenure as Senate president.
Reform of the workers compensation system comes to mind. The state began to deal with its mind-boggling pension liabilities.
He did not achieve these controversial breakthroughs by himself, and he will not reform education single-handedly.
The state Board of Education helped set the stage for drama in November with its firing of state Superintendent Jorea Marple.
Marple is a highly competent educator with a strong personality, and the state board traditionally has been rather meek.
It appears this board woke up to the need and potential for major reform and then grew frustrated with Marple pursuing an agenda out of sync with its own.
Now the board has created expectations that reforms are in store. Its members and newly chosen state Superintendent Jim Phares should be energetic allies in the fight for those audit recommendations.
While the drama officially begins Feb. 13, a preview worth catching will come next week.
House Speaker Rick Thompson will announce his new lineup of committee members.
Speaking upon his re-election as speaker this week, he called for an education "overhaul."
His educator-dominated House Education Committee has been a stumbling block to reforms over the past several years. Its bottling up of Manchin initiatives were a chief reason for his pursuit of the $275,000 audit.
Watch for the new committee lineup to reveal what "overhaul" means to Thompson.
Will a status quo House Education Committee tug the audit toward that dusty shelf? Or will a revamped panel give meaningful reform a chance?
Friend is editor and publisher of the Daily Mail. She may be reached at 348-5124 or nan...@dailymail.com.