House Speaker Richard Thompson is resigning from the West Virginia Legislature to join Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s Cabinet as secretary of Veterans Assistance.
Tomblin announced Thursday that Thompson will succeed Secretary Keith Gwinn once Gwinn retires in mid-June.
Thompson is a 60-year-old lawyer and served in the Army in the 1970s. The Wayne County Democrat was elected to his fourth term as speaker in January. The Legislature completed its 2013 regular session last month.
Gwinn was a 20-year Navy veteran when he joined the state Division of Veterans’ Affairs in 2000. That agency was elevated to the Cabinet in 2011 with Gwinn as its first secretary.
Thompson’s resignation as speaker will prompt Tomblin to call the House into session within 10 days to choose a new leader.