NPR logo Gov. Manchin Says He'll Begin Considering Byrd Successor On Wednesday

Gov. Manchin Says He'll Begin Considering Byrd Successor On Wednesday

A question from Joe Herten of Dearborn, Mich., about who will succeed the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.):

Any word on a new senator from the great state of West Virginia?

Nothing new, and I'm sticking with my original prediction:  former Democratic state chair Nick Casey.  Gov. Joe Manchin (D), who will fill the seat via appointment, has said he will begin the process on Wednesday, a day after Byrd's funeral in Arlington, Va.

There seems to be more pressure building to hold a special election this November, rather than have the appointee serve through 2012, as Secretary of State Natalie Tennant (D) has advised.  West Virginia Chamber of Commerce president Steve Roberts said, "The people of West Virginia deserve the opportunity to select the person who will represent them in the U.S. Senate.  I truly believe Sen. Byrd would want to voters to decide who their next U.S. senator will be."

In what was probably directed at Manchin, Roberts added, "Instead of devoting time and energy to finding a placeholder, let's select our next United States senator by a vote of the people."

The state Republican Party also wants to see a special election this fall.

Manchin, a very popular Democrat whose tenure as governor ends in 2012, has said he will not appoint himself to the seat.  But it is universally expected that whenever the election will be held, either in 2012 or this year, he will be the Democratic nominee for the seat.

The expectation is that we may be days away, not weeks, from an announcement on who Byrd's successor will be.