W.Va.'s Manchin Says He Won't Appoint Himself To Senate.  Smart Move. : It's All Politics West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin says he wants a special Senate election to take place this year, saying having an appointee in office for 2-1/2 years without input from the voters is too long.
NPR logo W.Va.'s Manchin Says He Won't Appoint Himself To Senate.  Smart Move.

W.Va.'s Manchin Says He Won't Appoint Himself To Senate.  Smart Move.

Manchin clearly wants to be senator but he won't appoint himself to the post. hide caption

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A lot of what West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin (D) said yesterday made sense.

He thinks two and a half years is too long for an appointed senator to serve without an election.  That's what would happen if current state law doesn't change.  Manchin is thought to be days away from naming someone to fill the seat of the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D), and a recent opinion from the secretary of state said that the next election wouldn't take place until 2012, when Byrd's term would have been up.

Manchin has asked the state attorney general, Darrell McGraw (D), for an opinion on whether a special election can be moved up to this November.  The governor said yesterday he is interested in running for the seat, hardly a secret in West Virginia.  And it's clear he would like to see a special election happen this year.

But he also said he would not appoint himself to the seat, despite the urgings from groups such as the state AFL-CIO and the Chamber of Commerce.  And that makes sense too.  The history of governors appointing themselves to the Senate and then trying to win the seat is abysmal.  Voters see the move as self-serving and ego-driven.  Only Happy Chandler of Kentucky, who arranged to have himself appointed to the Senate in 1939, was able to win election on his own; every other governor who tried this was rejected by the voters.

(And yes, for the record, governors do not exactly appoint themselves; they resign as governor and have their successors name them to the Senate.)

Meanwhile, a Huntington News editorial says Manchin should stay in office until his term expires in 2012:

Manchin needs to put his ego and ambitions aside, appoint a decent stand-in for himself, and finish out his term. Then, if the people believe he has done a good enough job as a two-term Governor to reward him with the U.S. Senate seat, he is as entitled to run for it as anyone.

But finish what you started, Governor. And don't imagine that the AFL-CIO and Chamber of Commerce speak for the vast majority of West Virginians.