The West Virginia Senate has its first new president in 17 years. Sen. Jeff Kessler, a Marshall County Democrat, won election as the body's chief Monday. The 28-5 vote followed party lines.
Kessler succeeds Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, who resigned Sunday from the Senate. Tomblin had been acting as governor since last November under the state constitution's vacancy process. He was the longest-serving Senate president in state history.
Kessler served as acting president during Tomblin's absence. A lawyer, Kessler was previously chair of the Judiciary Committee. He turns 56 on Wednesday.
Those voting Monday included newly appointed Sen. Art Kirkendoll. Tomblin named the 60-year-old Democrat earlier Monday to his vacated seat representing Logan County. Sen. Erik Wells, D-Kanawha, voted by phone while deployed to Afghanistan as a Naval reserve officer.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)