The West Virginia Senate is the upper house of the West Virginia Legislature. There are 17 senatorial districts. Each district has two senators who serve staggered four-year terms. The body is generally considered more conservative than the West Virginia House of Delegates. Democrats and Republicans are more evenly matched in the Senate.
The state's districting system is unique in the United States. The state's most populous county, Kanawha County constitutes two "superimposed" districts. In practical effect, this means that Kanawha County is a single district electing two members every two years. The remaining 54 counties of the state are divided into fifteen districts, with county lines not respected in most cases. Under the unique rule, no district may have more than one senator from the same county, no matter the population. This means, for example, that one of the 5th District's two senators must reside in Cabell County and the other must reside in the tiny portion of Wayne County that's inside the 5th District, even though Cabell County has more people than the portion of Wayne County that is part of the 5th District. However, both senators are elected by everybody within the district, not just by the people of the county in which the senators reside.
The Senate elects its own president from its membership. As of the 79th West Virginia Senate, Earl Ray Tomblin is Senate President.
While the West Virginia Constitution does not create or even mention the title of lieutenant governor, West Virginia Code 6A-1-4 creates this designation for the Senate President. The Senate President is first in the line of succession to the office of governor. As stated in the constitution: "In case of the death, conviction or impeachment, failure to qualify, resignation, or other disability of the governor, the president of the Senate shall act as governor until the vacancy is filled, or the disability removed." However, the Senate President may not always serve the remainder of the term as the constitution also states: "Whenever a vacancy shall occur in the office of governor before the first three years of the term shall have expired, a new election for governor shall take place to fill the vacancy."
|Democratic Party||26 (76%)|
|Republican Party||8 (24%)|
|President of the Senate/Lieutenant Governor||Earl Ray Tomblin||Democratic||7||Logan Co.|
|President Pro Tempore||William R. Sharpe, Jr.||Democratic||12||Lewis Co.|
|Majority Leader||H. Truman Chafin||Democratic||6||Mingo Co.|
|Minority Leader||Donald T. Caruth||Republican||10||Mercer Co.|
|Majority Whip||Larry J. Edgell||Democratic||2||Wetzel Co.|
|Minority Whip||Clark S. Barnes||Republican||15||Randolph Co.|
|1||Edwin Bowman||Democratic||Brooke, Hancock, Ohio|
|2||Larry J. Edgell||Democratic||Calhoun, Doddridge, Marion (part), Marshall,
Monongalia (part), Ritchie, Tyler, Wetzel
|Jeffrey V. Kessler||Democratic|
|3||Donna J. Boley||Republican||Pleasants, Roane (part), Wirt, Wood|
|4||Karen L. Facemyer||Republican||Jackson, Mason, Putnam, Roane (part)|
|5||Evan Jenkins||Democratic||Cabell, Wayne (part)|
|Robert H. Plymale||Democratic|
|6||H. Truman Chafin||Democratic||McDowell, Mercer (part), Mingo (part), Wayne (part)|
|John Pat Fanning||Democratic|
|7||Ron Stollings||Democratic||Boone, Lincoln, Logan, Wayne (part)|
|Earl Ray Tomblin||Democratic|
|9||Richard Browning||Democratic||Raleigh, Wyoming (part)|
|10||Don Caruth||Republican||Fayette (part), Greenbrier, Mercer, Monroe, Summers|
|Jesse O. Guills||Republican|
|11||William R. Laird, IV||Democratic||Fayette (part), Clay, Nicholas, Upshur, Webster|
|12||Douglas E. Facemire||Democratic||Braxton, Gilmer, Harrison, Lewis|
|Joseph M. Minard||Democratic|
|13||Michael Oliverio II||Democratic||Marion (part), Monongalia (part)|
|Roman W. Prezioso, Jr.||Democratic|
|14||David Sypolt||Republican||Barbour, Grant (part), Mineral (part),
Monongalia (part), Preston, Taylor
|15||Clark S. Barnes||Republican||Berkeley, Grant (part), Hardy, Hampshire,
Pendleton, Pocahontas, Randolph, Upshur (part)
|16||Herb Snyder||Democratic||Berkeley (part), Jefferson|
At the start each new Legislature, standing committees are appointed. The Senate President selects the chairpersons. The Rules of the Senate in the 78th West Virginia Senate call for the following committees to be formed:
The 79th West Virginia Senate will convene in February 2009.