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Secretary of State Natalie Tennant appeared to put the issue to rest the day after Byrd’s death on June 28 by ruling the statute calls for the governor to appoint somebody to serve out the term until the next primary election cycle, which is in 2012. Voters would have simultaneously elected somebody to serve out the last five weeks of Byrd’s term and a senator to serve a full, six-year term.

Mr. Manchin then proposed holding a November 2010 special election, after getting an opinion from Attorney General Darrell McGraw, a Democrat.

Mr. Manchin, has said he would not appoint himself as the placeholder — a move that has proved politically disastrous for other governors.

The Republican candidate for the vacant seat will likely be Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, the daughter of former Gov. Arch Moore. She is now seeking a sixth House term.

“While I come from the other side of the political aisle, I am optimistic that together we can work to improve our economy, protect and promote our state’s vital energy industry, and find real solutions to getting people back to work instead of more borrowing and spending like the failed stimulus bill that passed in 2009,” Ms. Capito said. 

Meanwhile, wealthy businessman John Raese, who has lost twice before in West Virginia election, reportedly said Wednesday he is considering a run for the seat. Mr. Raese plans to make his decision after the state legislature finishes its review, which now includes examining the nominating process.

Among the other names on the shortlist of Democrats to take the Byrd seat were Larry Puccio, the governor’s former chief of staff; Nick Casey, who recently accepted a federal judiciary appointment; and veteran Byrd staffer Anne Barth.

Mr. Puccio called Mr. Goodwin a “brilliant attorney.”

“He’s very detailed and a disciplined individual,” Mr. Puccio said. “I think he’s a rising star. And West Virginians would do well if they involved such individuals in the process. I think so much of him.”

Like Byrd, the Goodwins have played a major role in West Virginia public service. Mr. Goodwin’s father was chairman of West Virginia University’s Board of Governors. An uncle is a federal judge and a cousin is the U.S. Attorney for the state’s southern federal court district.

Mr. Goodwin’s wife, Rochelle, is state director for Sen. Jay Rockefeller, West Virginia Democrat.

“He is a United States senator, pure and simple,” Mr. Rockefeller said. “Robert C. Byrd would want that known.” 

The state Chamber of Commerce was among the first to welcome Mr. Manchin’s choice.

“Anybody who knows Carte likes Carte, enjoys working with him and finds him extremely competent,” Chamber President Steve Roberts said. “He is somebody who will represent West Virginia well in Washington and make us proud.”

 

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