Special election OK for Byrd’s seat

July 9, 2010 06:58

West Virginia’s top lawyer cleared the way Thursday for Gov. Joe Manchin to put a special election for the late Robert C. Byrd’s Senate seat on the November ballot.

By LAWRENCE MESSINA at Townhall.com

Attorney General Darrell McGraw, responding to questions posed by Manchin a day earlier, concluded that the governor can declare a special election to fill what remains of Byrd’s term. Manchin sought the legal opinion after joining a growing push to hold a vote earlier than 2012, when Byrd would have faced re-election.

Byrd, 92, died last week after more than a half-century in the Senate. He had just over 30 months left in his term.

Manchin has said he would prefer placing the seat on the Nov. 2 general election ballot. Citing that date, McGraw’s opinion suggests that Manchin set a special primary election “at a time which maximizes the opportunity for all potential candidates” and voters.

Traveling to Boston for the annual summer meeting of the National Governors Association, where he is in line to become the group’s next chairman, Manchin welcomed the opinion.

“In light of this opinion, I plan to speak with the state’s legislative leadership immediately to determine how we will further proceed in order to reach a conclusion to this matter,” the governor said in a statement.

Pending an election, the governor will appoint someone to fill the vacancy. Manchin has said he may run for Byrd’s seat, but won’t arrange to have himself appointed.


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