July 7th, 2010
12:43 PM ET
12 years ago

West Virginia Gov. says he'll consider running for Byrd seat

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/07/07/art.manchin.file.jpg caption ="West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin told reporters that he is considering seeking the late Sen. Robert Byrd's Senate seat."]

(CNN) - West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin says he'll push to hold a special election this November to fill the remaining two years of the term of late Sen. Robert Byrd.

Manchin, a popular two-term Democratic governor, also told reporters that he "would highly consider" seeking the seat himself - a statement that is not surprising given Manchin was already thought to be interested in running for the Senate in 2012, when the election is currently scheduled.

Manchin made his announcement during a news conference Wednesday with reporters at the state capitol in Charleston, West Virginia, one day after Byrd was buried. The 92 year old Democratic lawmaker, who died last week, was the longest serving senator in U.S. history.

Last week West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant said that state law dictated that no special election could be held until 2012. Since then, there have been calls by conservative and business groups to hold the special election this year. On Friday, Tennant also urged for the law to be changed and the election to be moved up.

Rep. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia Wednesday morning also joined those calls, saying that the state legislature should change the state law. State lawmakers are scheduled to meet again later this month. If there is a special election, Capito could be the GOP's top contender for the seat.

Manchin told reporters that he's asking state Attorney General Darrell McGraw, a Democrat, to rule on whether an election can be held as early as this November. Manchin says he hopes the attorney general will have a decision by next week. He also did not dismiss moving up the election through a move by the state legislature.

West Virginia law dictates that the governor has the power to name an immediate replacement for Byrd. Manchin says he doesn't want to appoint someone who would serve for two and a half years without the people's consent.

"I believe in the power of the vote," Manchin told reporters.

If the contest is held this November, it would add another possible Senate pick up potential for the Republicans and would help their odds at possibly retaking control of the chamber. The GOP needs to re-take 10 Senate seats to regain the majority.

The state's largest union, the West Virginia chapter of the AFL-CIO, has urged Manchin to name himself to the seat, but the governor has said he will not do so.

Manchin told reporters that he will not move forward on selecting any replacement or on his decisions to run for the vacant Senate seat until McGraw returns his ruling on when the election can be held.

Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn

Filed under: Joe Manchin • Robert Byrd • West Virginia
soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. thor

    These poiticians will do everything they can to stay in power.Why can't this governor go out into the prvate sector to find a job.oops I forgot As long as Obama is president that not going to happen

    July 7, 2010 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |

    I assume that the AFL-CIO will make this decision. If there will be no special election there should be a meeting of national unions (SEIU, UAW, etc) as well as ACORN and the usual lib suspects in order to fill this seat. The last folks consulted should be West Virginians.

    July 7, 2010 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  3. Eric

    Yeah, I mean, SOMEONE has to keep that pork rolling into WV, now that Sheets Byrd is taking a dirt nap in hell.

    July 7, 2010 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  4. Victim of GOP Taliban

    Sounds like a great fit. If only WV could transition away from coal and get on board with green energy instead of reliance on 18th century technology.

    July 7, 2010 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  5. Duck Fallas

    When did Joe Theisman become governor of West Virginia?

    July 7, 2010 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  6. scott

    the governor is very popular he know he would win.the dems would luv 2 see rep.capita run bcause that would put her house seat n play n november

    July 7, 2010 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  7. Riley

    NO way! We don't need another liberal democrat in the senate.

    July 7, 2010 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  8. Hugo

    I can see it now, take a left on Senator Byrd State Boulevard stay to the left until you hit Manchin Memorial Parkway, then take another left, you'll know you are there when you hit the dump, his mansion will be the one overlooking from the top of the ridge.

    July 7, 2010 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  9. Sniffit

    Overly ambitious jackhole. He'll fail to appoint and it will mess with the Dems numbers for voting for important legislation. $10 says he gets a phone call from Dem leadership telling him to follow the statutes as written or he will get no support in 2012 for his senate run.

    One might also wonder what the Teatards will make of conservatives calling for the special election instead of following the existing statutes. It's well known the Teatards have a bee in their bonnetts over the 17th Amendment to the Constitution and want it repealed so that Senators are APPOINTED by the state legislatures, NOT ELECTED BY VOTE. And yet here we have conservatives hoping that avoiding an immediate appointment will mess up the financial reform legislation and unemployment benefits extensions, etc., so they've taken what they think is the politically expedient position. Meh...just sit back and enjoy their continuing hypocrisy.

    July 7, 2010 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  10. Gil

    Go Manchin, let's keep the 60-40 seat majority and don't let one of those right wing nut case teabuggers get it! Of course, small chance since they represent only about 30% of even the repuglican party!

    July 7, 2010 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |