Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin picked a Harrison County member of the House of Delegates to fill a vacancy in the state Senate.
Tomblin's Wednesday choice of Delegate Sam Cann, D-Harrison, ends several days of controversy over the process to replace former Sen. Joe Minard, D-Harrison.
Tomblin's decision means Democrats will now have to find someone to replace Cann in the House. It also means House Judiciary Chairman Tim Miley, D-Harrison, can remain a top leader in the House. Miley was one of three candidates to replace Minard.
Minard resigned his Senate seat last week to become the Senate's clerk, a job with a higher salary.
Cann, of Clarksburg, was first elected to the House in 2004. He is a former president of the Independent Oil and Gas Association and the son of Carmine Cann, a former House member.
Cann is also one of the last members of the so-called "Dirty 30" who ended up on the wrong side of the House speaker's race in 2007 following the departure of Speaker Bob Kiss.
The Dirty 30 backed Delegate Scott Varner's attempt to become speaker. Varner's side lost the race, and its members lost power to Rick Thompson, who remains speaker, and Thompson's leadership team.
Cann said he is proud of that generation of Kiss-era lawmakers, which helped create the state's rainy day fund, shore up the teachers retirement and workers compensation systems, made sure the Public Employees Insurance Agency was solvent and passed medical malpractice reforms.
"When most of us started, our state was looked at in a way that no one wanted to do business with us. And we were committed in righting the ship," Cann said in a telephone interview.
"From his first day in the House of Delegates, Sam has worked hard for the people of Harrison County, and I am confident he will continue to do so as a state senator," Tomblin said in a statement.
The governor's choice was initially complicated by criticism of the process to replace Minard. The criticism started from within the Democratic Party but eventually included the chairman of the state Republican Party.