- Associated Press - Thursday, July 22, 2010

CHARLESTON, W.Va. | A crowded field of 10 Republicans filed paperwork Thursday to challenge West Virginia’s popular Democratic governor in November for the Senate seat long held by the now-deceased Robert C. Byrd, a day after the GOP’s top prospect passed on the race.

John Raese, an industrialist and media owner, and recent U.S. House candidate Mac Warner were the best-known among the GOP hopefuls who joined a field of candidates that already included Gov. Joe Manchin III and two other Democrats.

The GOP pack also includes a substitute teacher’s aide also running for the state Legislature and a California man who attracted 44 votes in the party’s 2008 New Hampshire presidential primary.

But GOPRep. Shelley Moore Capito, the six-term congresswoman given the best chance against Mr. Manchin, announced Wednesday she would run for re-election to her House seat instead.

The parties will hold Aug. 28 primaries before the Nov. 2 general election. The candidate filing period ends Friday.

November’s winner will serve the two-plus years that would remain in Byrd’s term and take over from Sen. Carte Goodwin, Mr. Manchin’s Democratic placeholder appointee to the seat. Mr. Goodwin, 36, was sworn in Tuesday and has said he does not plan to run.

Mr. Manchin, a popular centrist now in his second term, entered the race Tuesday and is widely seen as the front-runner. But he must first prevail against primary hopefuls Ken Hechler, 95, a former congressman and secretary of state, and ex-Republican state lawmaker Sheirl Fletcher in the Democratic primary.

Mr. Raese, 60, is the GOP contender best-known to state voters. He has unsuccessfully waged three prior statewide campaigns, including two for the Senate. His wealth could aid his candidacy, given the special election’s short 101-day time frame. He pumped $2.2 million of his own money into his failed 2006 Senate bid, his most recent statewide race.

Mr. Warner, a developer, lost the May Republican primary for the open seat in the 1st Congressional District. A Morgantown resident like Mr. Raese, Mr. Warner hails from a political family that includes brothers who have been state GOP chairman, the party’s 2004 nominee for governor and U.S. attorney for southern West Virginia. His campaign also received backing from “tea party” supporters.

Byrd, a Democrat, faced Mr. Raese in the 2006 Senate race, winning with more than 64 percent of the vote. The late senator was history’s longest-serving member of Congress when he died last month at 92.

Among the other, lesser-known Republican candidates, Albert Howard of San Pedro, Calif., demanded a recount after his 12th-place, 2008 showing in New Hampshire. At the time, he was a chauffeur living in Michigan.

Teacher’s aide Lynette Kennedy McQuain, meanwhile, is already a GOP nominee for the House of Delegates in Marion County. The legislation setting the special-election process for Byrd’s seat allows for such dual candidacies.

State GOP lawmakers secured that provision so Mrs. Capito could seek Byrd’s seat while she also campaigned for another House term, but she decided in the end not to make the Senate run.

Republicans Thomas Ressler of Falling Waters, Kenneth A. Culp of Summersville and Buckhannon residents Scott H. Williams and Daniel Scott Rebich also were among those filing for the Senate race Thursday.

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