The question is whether or not the law is trumped by the constitution, which requires an election to held if there is a vacancy in the governor's office before the end of the third year of the four-year term. The constitution does not say exactly when that election should be.
Also, the Tomblin camp may suggest that the people stirring the pot have their own motives.
It's not clear with whom the unions are aligned. The AFL-CIO is thought to prefer a candidate other than Tomblin sitting in the Governor's Office - perhaps House Speaker Rick Thompson or Treasurer John Perdue.
One clue may be found in the AFL-CIO brief.
The union asks that the court strike down the existing timeline in the law that doesn't require an election right away. The union argues the constitution calls for a speedier election.
However, the union goes out of its way to suggest that justices can keep another provision in the same law that calls for the Democratic and Republican parties to select their nominees for a special gubernatorial election in party conventions rather than through a statewide primary election.
Such a scenario is thought to favor Perdue, a candidate who has built a strong relationship with county party officials.
The union said the provision is designed to save money by shifting the cost burden of selecting party nominees from the taxpayers to the parties. The cost of the special election for U.S. Senate, for instance, is expected to be at least $3 million. The Secretary of State's office is expected to release exact figures today.
The WVEA said it would have filed its brief regardless of who was acting governor. It refers to Tomblin an "ex officio substitute" for governor. Ex officio is a Latin word for to a person who serves in one capacity as a result of holding another office.
The teacher organization also questioned whether an acting governor is democratically accountable to voters. The WVEA filing said it doesn't make sense to hold an election if the Senate president is acting as governor for less than a year. But if the vacancy is longer, the union said there needs to be a quick election.
"Beyond the one-year line, the democratic benefits of statewide election, instead of the short-term position of an acting governor, is required," the WVEA's staff attorney Jim Haviland wrote in a four-page brief.
"In that manner the burdens and pressures of the office will be shouldered for nearly two years by a governor specifically elected on a statewide basis. This court should order an election. Such an election will not happen otherwise."
Contact writer Ry Rivard at ry.riv...@dailymail.com or 304-348-1796.