West Virginia Will Hold Special Election for Byrd’s Seat

Posted July 19, 2010 at 9:04pm

West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin (D) signed legislation into law Monday night that tees up a fall special election to fill the seat held by the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D).

“We can have an election that will honor Sen. Byrd and show him the Constitution is alive and well,” Manchin said at the bill signing. He was flanked by the state’s Senate president, House of Delegates speaker, minority leaders and secretary of state.

Manchin acknowledged the rocky path to get the bill cleared, but he said that negotiations continued even after the state Legislature adjourned Friday. “Once we had that comfort level, we were in good shape,” he said.

Manchin signed the bill shortly after the two chambers of the hastily reconvened Legislature voted for passage. Under an agreement reached by state party leaders, West Virginia will hold an Aug. 28 primary and Nov. 2 special election to fill the seat.

The special election is considered separate from November’s midterm elections, thus allowing Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R) to run for another House term and the open Senate seat if she chooses.

Manchin, who hailed Monday night’s vote and bill signing, is the odds-on favorite for the seat. The two-term governor said he would announce his intentions Tuesday; he is expected to enter the race.

On Friday, Manchin appointed Carte Goodwin, his former general counsel, to temporarily fill the seat. The 36-year-old Democrat will be sworn in Tuesday afternoon on the Senate floor.