Jeff Kessler

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Jeff Kessler
Jeff Kessler.jpg
Member of the West Virginia Senate
from the 2nd district
In office
November 10, 1997 – January 11, 2017
Preceded byLarry Wiedebusch
Succeeded byMike Maroney
Minority Leader of the West Virginia Senate
In office
January 14, 2015 – January 11, 2017
Preceded byMike Hall
Succeeded byRoman Prezioso
President of the West Virginia Senate
Lieutenant Governor of West Virginia
In office
November 14, 2011 – January 14, 2015
Acting: November 15, 2010 – November 14, 2011
Preceded byEarl Ray Tomblin
Succeeded byBill Cole
Personal details
Jeffrey Vincent Kessler

(1955-11-16) November 16, 1955 (age 63)
Wheeling, West Virginia, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Gretchen Kessler
Alma materWest Liberty University
West Virginia University, Morgantown

Jeffrey Vincent Kessler (born November 16, 1955) is a former Democratic member of the West Virginia Senate in the United States, representing the 2nd district from 1997 to 2017. He is the former Minority Leader of the Senate.

Kessler previously served as President of the Senate/Lieutenant Governor, Acting President of the Senate and Chairman of the Judiciary Committee. Kessler is also involved in private practice, where he is a partner in the law firm Berry, Kessler, Crutchfield, Taylor & Gordon.

Kessler was born November 16, 1955 in Wheeling, West Virginia. He is the son of George Henry Kessler (1924–2009) and Rosemary Krupica Kessler (1930–1978). He is a 1974 graduate of Bishop Donahue High School in McMechen, West Virginia. He also attended West Liberty State College (now West Liberty University) near Wheeling, West Virginia, and the West Virginia University College of Law in Morgantown, West Virginia.

Kessler unsuccessfully ran for the Democratic nomination in the 2011 gubernatorial election, losing to Earl Ray Tomblin, and in the 2016 gubernatorial election, losing to Jim Justice.[1]


Jeff Kessler was born in 1955, he is of Russian descent on his mother's side. His father served in the US Navy during World War II and the Korean War, then later worked as a cookie salesman for Nabisco, he would bring home free samples and damaged cookies which Kessler enjoyed as a child. His mother stayed at home and took care of Jeff and his three siblings. Jeff's younger brother, Chris, was diagnosed with a plastic anemia when he was a toddler, he went into remission and survived. In 1994, Chris was elected Marshall County Assessor. Kessler's mother later died of breast cancer at the age of 47.[2]


SCORE Initiative[edit]

In 2014, Kessler spearheaded the SCORE Initiative, which stands for Southern Coalfields Organizing and Revitalizing the Economy. The initiative aims to provide economic opportunities in areas which have suffered from job losses and economic hardships primarily due to losses in the coal industry. According to Kessler, the program acts as a counterpunch to the effects of the "war on coal" and aims to "change our way of thinking so that [Southern West Virginia] can once again become a region that offers our children and grandchildren opportunities for a better future." [3]

Gun control[edit]

Kessler has previously voted in favor of a bill that eliminated the requirement for a permit and training before a person can carry a concealed weapon. He refers to himself as a "second amendment advocate." [4]

Tobacco tax[edit]

In 2015, Kessler proposed raising the state cigarette tax by $1 per pack, stating that a $1 increase in the cigarette tax would bring in an estimated $130 million.[5] Citing West Virginia's relatively high smoking rate, he has proposed setting aside $20 million of the new revenue for substance abuse programs; this move comes as part of a larger effort [6] He also hopes to set aside $10 million of the money for collegiate scholarships.[7] The idea began to receive increased support in late 2015, with some newspaper boards citing the higher rates of neighboring states and comparing West Virginia's "arbitrarily low" rates to government subsidies for smokers.[8]


  1. ^ "Kessler signals run for governor in 2016". Charleston Gazette-Mail. Charleston Gazette-Mail.
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Kessler announces S.C.O.R.E. initiative". Parkersburg News and Sentinel. Parkersburg News and Sentinel.
  4. ^ "Jeff Kessler on Gun Control". On the Issues. On the Issuesl.
  5. ^ "Cigarette tax hike-smoking bill moves from Senate to House". WV MetroNews. West Virginia MetroNews Network.
  6. ^ "In U.S., Smoking Rate Lowest in Utah, Highest in Kentucky". Gallup. Gallup.
  7. ^ "Issues: Funding Our Future". Jeff Kessler for WV. Jeff Kessler Democrat for Governor of West Virginia. Archived from the original on 2016-02-15.
  8. ^ "Arbitrarily low cigarette tax costs WV $100 million a year". Charleston Gazette-Mail. Charleston Gazette-Mail.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Earl Ray Tomblin
President of the West Virginia Senate
Acting: 2010–2011

Succeeded by
Bill Cole