(CNN) - West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin announced Tuesday that he'll run this autumn for the late Sen. Robert Byrd's Senate seat.
"I want to make it official, I am running for United States Senate," Manchin said to applause, at a news conference at the state capitol in Charleston, West Virginia.
Manchin's announcement came the morning after the West Virginia state legislature approved a plan to hold a special election in November to fill Byrd's seat. Late Monday night Manchin signed the measure after a compromise worked out by state lawmakers won final approval. The primary contests will be August 28 and the general election for Byrd's successor will take place as part of the congressional mid-term contests on November 2.
The 92 year old Byrd, the longest serving senator in the nation's history, died last month. Friday Manchin named attorney and political confidante Carte Goodwin to temporarily fill Byrd's seat. Goodwin is expected to be sworn into the Senate later Tuesday afternoon. He has indicated he will not run in the special election.
"I can't fill his shoes," said Manchin of Byrd. "I only hope that I can follow in his footsteps and to continue to help the people of West Virginia."
Manchin, a popular two term governor, may face off this November against Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito. The compromise by state lawmakers allows Capito to run in the special election for Byrd's seat as well as run for re-election for her House seat. The GOP considers Capito a top prospect for possibly capturing a seat the Democrats have for more than half a century.
Kent Gates, spokesman for Capito's campaign office, says "she has not come to a final conclusion" about whether she will run for Senate.
"She's weighing her options," Gates told CNN, noting that there are some legal issues to review about the bill the state legislature passed regarding whether Capito could run for both her House seat and the special election for the Senate seat.
Gates said Capito would make a decision "well before week's end."
The bill in the state legislature had to pass Monday for it to apply to the fall special election process. Otherwise an election to fill the seat would not have been held until 2012 as there are two and a half years left in Byrd's term.
Following Byrd's death, West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant announced that state law dictated that no special election could be held until 2012. Her announcement triggered calls by conservative and business groups to hold the special election this year. Days after her announcement, Tennant also urged for the law to be changed and the election to be moved up.
Manchin, who said "I believe in the power of the vote," asked the state's attorney general to rule on whether the election could be held this year. The attorney general's ruling allowed state lawmakers to take up the issue and eventually reach a compromise on holding an election this year.
By being held this November, the contest in West Virginia adds another possible Senate pick up potential for the Republicans and helps their odds at possibly retaking control of the chamber. The GOP needs to re-claim 10 Senate seats held by Democrats to regain the majority.
"At a time when West Virginia's unemployment stands at 8.9 percent and the national debt has skyrocketed past $13 trillion, voters will decide whether their state will be better off with another Democrat Senator who will loyally support the Obama agenda, or whether they want a Senator who will stand up for the checks-and-balances that they deserve," charges National Republican Senatorial Committee Communications Director Brian Walsh, in a statement released just minutes after Manchin's announcement.
–CNN Congressional Producer Deirdre Walsh contributed to this report
(Updated at 12:25 p.m. ET with additional information)
–Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn