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Manchin Calls Legislature to Special Session to Consider Byrd Succession

West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin (D) announced late Friday that he would call the state Legislature into session Thursday to clarify the state’s succession laws as he ponders how to replace the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D).

“After receiving opinions from both our state’s Secretary of State and Attorney General, it is apparent that we must have clarity in the law or we risk judicial intervention, which would cost much more than a special session and could delay West Virginians from having representation,” Manchin said in a statement. “The most precious thing that our citizens have is their vote — and the last thing that I want is for a citizen to go to the polls to cast a vote, only to realize that his or her vote did not count because a judge had declared the election process invalid.”

Manchin is entitled to name a successor to Byrd, who died on June 28, but state officials have been unable to agree on whether a special election should be held to fill the remainder of Byrd’s term, which concludes at the end of 2012 — or whether the appointed would serve until the end of 2012.

“Senator Byrd was indeed a stickler for the constitution and the laws that guide our land and I feel as though he would want us to act responsibly to clear up any ambiguities that exist in order to move forward with this matter,” Manchin said.

Manchin has discounted appointing himself to the Senate but told the Associated Press on Friday that it’s “highly likely” he would run in a special election. Republicans would dearly love for Rep. Shelley Moore Capito to run for the seat, but it is unclear if she will.

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