Joe Manchin, the popular Democratic Governor of West Virginia, has come out in support of holding a special election this November to replace Sen. Robert Byrd, and Manchin is a likely candidate for the spot. Currently, the seat is set to be held by a replacement appointed by Manchin until 2012. From The Fix:
Manchin said at a press conference that he will ask state Attorney General Darrell McGraw (D) to issue an opinion on whether the law allows for a 2010 special election, rather than a 2012 one. Beyond that, he left open the possibility of changing the law through a special session of the state legislature.
Regardless of how the change is made, though, Manchin said he will be behind the effort. He said he doesn’t want to appoint someone who will serve without the voters’ consent for two-and-a-half years.
“I can’t do it,” Manchin said. “I believe in the power of the vote.”
Manchin makes the call for a special election this year bipartisan. Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito has also urged the state legislature to move up the election. She is expected to be the likely Republican nominee if there is a special election.
Normally, you would not expect a Democrat to push for an unnecessary special election when Republicans are ahead in the generic Congressional ballot, but all politics is local. Manchin is a very popular governor, something that isn’t guaranteed to last in this bad economic environment, and would potentially be the Democratic nominee for the special Senate race. This could be a case of making sure to strike while the iron is still hot.
It is still not a forgone conclusion that there will be a special election this November. A new state law will possibly be required to move up the election, but the chances of that happening are growing.