by Ron Gregory
OCEANA — State Senator Daniel Hall, the Republican-turned-Democrat-turned Republican, has announced his intention to resign his state position, effective January 3, 2016.
Hall, whose switch from a Democrat elected State Senator from District 9 to a Republican in 2014 turned the tide and placed the GOP in the majority for the first time in over 80 years, said he will go to work as state liaison with the National Rifle Association.
Originially a Republican, Hall became a Democrat and was elected to two terms in the state House of Delegates. In 2012, he defeated incumbent Democrat Richard Browning in a contentious primary, 5,303 to 5,086. Hall’s opponent in the General election, Epp E. Cline polled 15,970 votes to 18,502 for Hall.
Hall, who is from Oceana in Wyoming County, organized with statehouse Democrats and was actively involved in Democrat campaigns in 2014. As soon as it became obvious a 50-50 split in the State Senate might occur, Hall announced he was switching his party allegiance to Republican, giving the GOP the vote they needed to organize. This led to the election of current Senate President Bill Cole, now a Republican candidate for Governor, and the defeat of former President Jeff Kessler, now a Democrat candidate for Governor.
Speculation abounded following Hall’s announcement. Leaders of the state Republican party told reporters that “we firmly believe our party will name three people from whom the Governor will appoint a replacement for Senator Hall.”
Normally, state law requires that the person appointed to an elected position be of the same party as the departing official. Democrats were quick to point out, however, that “voters in the Ninth District, when they spoke through their ballots, said they wanted a Democrat (then Hall) in that job. We think the Governor is obligated to appoint a Democrat.” That, of course, would upset the delicate balance of power now in place.
Most observers said, on the other hand, that they expect Democrat Governor Earl Ray Tomblin will appoint a Republican to the job. “Earl Ray hasn’t rocked the boat yet in six years as Governor,” said one Democrat political strategist, “there’s no reason to think he will now.”
Hall serves as Senate Majority Whip and is Chair of both the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee and the Labor Committee. He is a graduate of Raleigh County’s Liberty High School and Marshall University.
“Daniel has been a tremendous asset to the West Virginia Senate and it’s fair to say we wouldn’t be able to look back on the accomplishments we made during our landmark 2015 session without him,” Cole said.
A Charleston political consultant added, “the Republicans better figure out how to hold that seat because, if a Democrat were to be appointed, it would be a death knell for right-to-work and prevailing wage legislation.”