May 13, 1941: Fairmont State College President Joseph Rosier Seated in the U.S. Senate

May 13, 2015

  

On May 13, 1941, Fairmont State College President Joseph Rosier was seated in the U.S. Senate, ending one of the state’s most bizarre political tussles. He was succeeding Democratic powerbroker Matthew Neely, who’d stepped down as senator to become West Virginia’s 21st governor.

In the event of a vacancy in Congress, the state constitution gives the governor the right to appoint a replacement. However, Neely was in an ongoing feud with the outgoing governor, fellow Democrat Homer Holt. So, Neely tried a bit of trickery. He essentially resigned from the senate and was inaugurated as governor simultaneously. Then, Neely appointed Rosier to succeed him in the senate. The problem was, Holt had already appointed someone else. After a prolonged debate, Congress seated Neely’s man instead of Holt’s.

But Rosier was merely keeping the seat warm for Neely, who decided to run for the Senate again in 1942, less than two years into his gubernatorial term. Voters, though, had grown tired of Neely’s indecision and elected Republican Chapman Revercomb instead. Neely remained governor until 1945, when voters sent him back to Congress to serve in the House of Representatives.