CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Fourteen people are officially in the race to become West Virginia's next governor.
One of the final candidates to declare was state Sen. Jeffrey Kessler, D-Marshall, who announced his candidacy Saturday shortly before the 5 p.m. deadline. Kessler, the acting Senate president, has served in the Senate since 1997.
Other Democrats in the race are acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, House Speaker Rick Thompson, Kanawha County resident Arne Moltis, Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, and state Treasurer John Perdue, according to the state's elections website.
Running as Republicans are former Secretary of State Betty Ireland; Sen. Clark Barnes, R-Randolph; Putnam County prosecutor Mark Sorsaia; former Berkeley County Delegate Larry Faircloth; Jackson County Delegate Mitch Carmichael; and Monongalia County residents Cliff Ellis, Ralph William Clark and mine-drilling consultant Bill Maloney.
The state attorney general's office issued a legal opinion late Friday concluding that pre-candidacy committees created for the 2012 election are barred from transferring funds to this year's race. Several of the candidates had set up these advance campaigns. Only Perdue's appears to have a balance, of $10,000 as of March 2010, according to online campaign-finance reports posted by the secretary of state.