CHARLESTON, W.Va.— The Speaker of the state House of Delegates says he is looking forward to a new challenge.

“I think it’s the best thing for me to do at this point in my career,” House Speaker Rick Thompson said Thursday of his plans to resign from the House on June 15th to become Secretary of the state Department of Veterans Assistance.

MetroNews photo

Rick Thompson, speaker of he West Virginia House of Delgates, plans to move into Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s administration.

“I appreciate this opportunity from the Governor to let me continue to serve the people of West Virginia and our veterans,” he said.

Thompson is a Democrat who was first elected to the House in 1980 and returned as a delegate from Wayne County in 2000.  He has served as Speaker for the past seven years.

He will draw on his service in the U.S. Army at Fort Knox from 1972 to 1974 when he replaces current Secretary of Veterans Assistance Keith Gwinn who is planning to retire.

“I’ve always been an advocate for veterans,” Thompson said on Thursday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”  “I’m a hard worker.  I’ll work night and day to get things done for our veterans.  I’m really looking forward to it.”

The surprise announcement from Thompson this week has set off a scramble for the critical leadership position in the House.

The possible replacements include House Majority Leader Brent Boggs, Finance Committee Chairman Harry Keith White, Judiciary Chairman Tim Miley and Delegate Doug Skaff.

Governor Tomblin will have 10 days following Thompson’s resignation on June 15th to call a Special Session so the House can elect a new Speaker.

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  • Mike

    I'm glad to see change coming and Gwinn gone. A man who cheats on his wife can't be trusted by anyone and everyone that worked with him knew it. That Governors veterans council sure knew it and done nothing either so its time to clean that house too! Happy to see the chickens come to roost on some of this.

  • Joe

    Keith just didn't have leadership as a good trait and on top of that he was crippled by a few people trying to control everything, some non veterans working for politicians and a few borderline veterans trying to run a department and veterans program for personal reasons and not having a clue to what's truly needed. I would expect to see some more changes coming for veterans and feel they will be for the better and include some fresh faces with current wartime experience to help turn this around and make positive changes. Glad to see the change and know Rick Thompson and Billy Wayne will be tough but fair leaders that will get the house in order for veterans. Nothing is easy about this job Rick Thompson has taken but he knows veterans need much more than a hat and a bar, He knows the issues and the needs and more veterans and families are speaking out now so I imagine things will get interesting and get better.

  • Jim

    Many are tremendously happy to see the change and glad to see the team include Billy Wayne Bailey who truly carried the department over the last year and a half. The last secretary while a nice guy just didn't lead nor prom

    • Joe

      Your right on the money.

  • Taxpayer_not_State_Employee

    Earned it? What has he done except help himself and a few buddies? Give the taxpayers a break and stop defending Thompson and the other hogs at the trough.

    • Joe

      So what's your answer? The facts are we the veterans have been crapped on by poor leadership in veterans assistance and do nothing so called supporters. If they were doing the jobs they got paid for we wouldn't have veterans killing themselves or living under bridges with families in tow. I tell you the last two years has really been an eye opener for many of us and the hogs who are draped in veterans clothing need to get out and retire with Keith, because these veterans now are joining with Vietnam vets and no joke combat veterans and demanding leaders who will lead and not just act the part like a bunch of clowns! They also have allegiance to each other and not a club. Rick Thompson and Billy Wayne are tough but fair and have enough foresight to look at ways to fix the problem and not just keep stroking the dog. I say they will get things right real quick and we will see exactly what has and has not been done over the last six or seven years and I assure you Rick will peel that onion and point out all the past dirty deals that hurt our vets. May see some rats swimming away real quick from the sinking ship...

  • Poverty_Stricken_Taxpayer

    I make $20,000/year in the private sector and I'm supposed to be happy that Thompson screws out $60,000/year and that magistrates get $50,000 in one-horse counties? Vote 'em all out, they're all ripping off the taxpayers.

    • Nathan

      That's logical. Because your not doing well, be against anybody else doing well. Rick worked his whole life to get where he is. He lost his father at a young age and was raised by his grand parents in VERY humble circumstances. He made opportunity for himself by joining the army and going to law school. That doesn't mean he forgets where he came from. I can think of very few people who supported working men and women more than the speaker.

      • Joe

        Your right Nathan.

  • Vote Against Miley

    I agree completely with Barry Bledsoe. Tim Miley played politics with the continued growth of WVU. Miley was more worried about getting his magistrate pay raise bill passed then passing a bill that was good for all of West Virginians. He wanted to pass the magistrate bill because of his "then" intentions to run for state senate against Sam Cann. Look at what counties would be affected by the magistrate bill! The senatorial district of Tim Miley! Support a pay raise for magistrates who do less work than those of other counties who have larger volume... Real smart Miley... How about you quit playing playing politics with the livelihood of honest working West Virginians! Let's make sure our delegates elect a leader that will worry about the important issues facing West Virginians- not worried about the next election like Tim Miley.

    • liberty4all

      So the government handout to Morgantown, otherwise known as the TIF, is somehow vital to the "continued growth of WVU" and good for all West Virginians? Quit drinking the Kool Aid. If you were concerned with the livelihood of honest working West Virginians you would have opposed the TIF. Millions of dollars for a hundred seasonal peanut vendors really isn't a good bargain for the taxpayer's money. And don't tell me about the construction workers to build the stadium because without any guarantees they will be local, we'll see how many come from out of state.
      I love all the "small government Republicans" who get so concerned with taxpayer money being spent, until it is spent on something they like/want. Any true conservative who is for smaller government, less spending, less taxes, and generally keeping the government out of the business of picking winners and losers, should have opposed the TIF. The area is already being developed without the need for state give-aways. If a project is not viable enough to be able to privately support itself or otherwise obtain funding on its own, then capitalism dictates it should fail.
      Libertarians, unlike Republicans, are the only consistent voice for smaller government and less intrusion into our lives. Republicans simply spout the rhetoric when it suits them or when their corporate masters tell them they should say it.

    • EPMountaineer

      None of the magistrates in this state make good money and none of them deserved cuts. I believe the ones were going to receive a $6,000 pay cut. Even if they have a few less cases they're still working their butts off, they just don't have as big of a back-log as the bigger counties. They all might as well be considered volunteers because of the long hours they dedicate, day and night, and for all the terrible issues they have to hear and handle. They don't deserve pay-cuts and I am glad Del. Miley, along with others in the house, took a stand against Sen. Prezioso, to get it right. The magistrates would have been screwed if Miley didn't do what he did.

  • Joseph Gollie

    I just hope Mr. Thompson doesn't get sucked into the politics of the veteran organizations in the state. If he does he will suffer the same fate as Keith Gwinn.

  • Wowbagger

    The Speaker not only found a photographer who is particularly accomplished with Photoshop. He is being rewarded with a big pension on the backs of lowly state employees for being a good Democrat and a good party man! He must be really good at following Earl Ray's orders or perhaps something else.

    • Nathan

      Another explanation is that perhaps the governor didn't like the job he was doing as speaker and did this to get him away from that role. I don't know anymore than you do.

      • Wowbagger

        I'm not buying that. After Keith Burdette's jump to Commerce and several previous jumps from low paid part time legislators to high paid Super Secretaries the pattern is now clear. This is an excellent way to reward the Democrat Party faithful with a good retirement partially paid for by decades of small contributions by underpaid state employees. This is probably the reason why the otherwise useless Super Secretary positions were created.

  • Poverty_Stricken_Taxpayer

    Thompson isnt going to run for governor,he is running for $60,000/year retired politician. Why would any taxpayer who is going to retire with only social security applaud Thompson's feathering of his own nest? And Thompson is only one among many WV politicians who feather their own nests. Sux, really.

  • Larry

    It's always a nice story when a politician can move from a cushy, do nothing, elected position into a cushy, high paying, do nothing bureaucratic position, really warms the heart.

    • Nathan

      So skeptical.

  • Tater

    2 years ? I'm not sure he is qualified to chair that seat. If he goes ant-gun for WV veterans he won't last long. Shining shoes at Starbux would be a good follow up job.

    • Nathan

      Anti-gun? Where do you get your information? He is a STRONG supporter of gun rights. He is even trying to bring a firearms manufacture to West Virginia.

  • Mark

    Good riddance to another selfish and worthless politician.

  • Mark

    I am happy Speaker Thompson . It sounds like other's would have rather had one of their picks in that position! To do that run for Gov. and win and then you will have your say! Veterans deserve all they can get and I think what a better choice than Speaker of THE HOUSE Rick Thompson. IF this is to put him in position to run for Gov. I hope it helps him. This area could use some help from the Highest State office cause when Gov. Tomblin term ends he is not able to run for this office again . SO GO RICK!

  • Habib Haddad

    Better to remain silent and appear to be a fool than open one's mouth and remove all doubt.

  • JACK

    Looks like another run for governor coming.

    • Nathan

      I'd be for that.