- The Washington Times - Friday, July 16, 2010

West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin III on Friday appointed fellow Democrat and former legal adviser Carte Goodwin to the Senate seat held by Sen. Robert C. Byrd who died last month.

Mr. Goodwin, 36, will hold the seat for at least several months, as the state legislature prepares to examine whether West Virginia electoral law allows for Mr. Manchin’s proposal to hold a special election in November so residents can pick a candidate to serve the remaining 2 1/2 years of Byrd’s term.

The appointment was no surprise, considering Mr. Goodwin’s name was on most shortlists and his family has a deep history in state Democratic politics and public service.

“I am genuinely confident that Carte Goodwin will look out for West Virginia,” Mr. Manchin said at a state capital press conference. “We passed this torch to another generation.”

Mr. Goodwin worked on Mr. Manchin’s 2004 gubernatorial campaign before becoming his general counsel. He was considered key in drafting mine rescue and safety measures that were passed after fatal accidents at West Virginia’s Sago and Aracoma coal mines in early 2006.

Mr. Goodwin left the administration shortly after Mr. Manchin — widely reported to be eyeing a run for Byrd’s seat — began his second term in 2009 to join his family’s law firm in Charleston. He accepted Mr. Manchin’s request last year to lead a review of the state’s judiciary amid complaints from business groups and conflict-of-interest scandals involving state Supreme Court justices.

On Tuesday, the 36-year-old Mr. Goodwin is expected to be sworn in — temporarily replacing the oldest senator with one who will be the youngest of the 111th Congress. 

“He’s the consummate insider,” said state Republican Party Executive Director Troy Berman. “He’ll keep that seat warm for the governor.”

The special legislative session that starts Monday is the next step in what has been a series of intense yet discreet debates, out of respect for the the 92-year-old Byrd, a Democrat and the longest-serving senator in U.S. history.

Early in the debates, Senate Democrats hoped for a quick replacement to keep a key party vote. They managed Thursday to get enough votes to pass their financial reform legislation and send it to President Obama. 

Still,  Mr. Goodwin says he will be  the 60th Democratic vote in the Senate, which would block a Republican filibuster and allow his party to pass unemployment compensation legislation.

Some state Democrats, however, privately had said they didn’t want a “placeholder” candidate to serve for roughly 29 months. 

GOP leaders had hoped for a vote to perhaps fill the seat with a Republican for the first time since 1958.

“The appointment further elucidates the need for voters to have a choice in who represents them in Washington,” Mr. Berman also said. “The sooner the better.”

West Virginia legal officials initially ruled that the deadline for a special election in November had passed and that Mr. Manchin could appoint a replacement to serve the remainder of Byrd’s term.

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