There’s a November 2010 Election Brewing For Byrd’s Seat

Attorney General Darrell McGraw, responding to questions posed by Manchin yesterday, has just 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.

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.

“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.

Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, West Virginia’s chief elections officer, earlier ruled that Manchin’s appointee to fill the vacancy could keep the seat until 2012. Tennant later said she personally favored an earlier election.

McGraw’s ruling said Tennant’s analysis relied too much on a 1994 state court ruling, which arose from a judicial appointment, and too little on the 17th Amendment. That change to the U.S. Constitution shifted the election of U.S. senators from state legislatures to voters.

Manchin may now call a special legislative session to settle details such as candidate filing and party nomination deadlines. McGraw’s opinion found that the governor already has the power to set the parameters of a special election. “Otherwise, the power to proclaim the election would be meaningless,” it said.

Tennant said Thursday that her office has begun drafting possible measures for a special session. She said the differing opinions about when to hold the election underscore the need for making state election law more clear.

Given the short time before Nov. 2, McGraw also offered to help ensure the participation of minor parties and overseas military and other likely absentee voters.

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2 Responses to “There’s a November 2010 Election Brewing For Byrd’s Seat”
  1. jbecker says:

    Robert C. Byrd is the poster boy for repealing the 17th Amendment.

    “McGraw also offered to help ensure the participation of minor parties…” – Yeah, right. I’ll believe it when I see it.

    BTW, Jesse Johnson of the Mountain Party (ran against Byrd in 2006) is running for House of Delegates this year. Since there’s mention of letting Capito run (by dropping her current race), will the Democrats also allow this for candidates of other parties? This is all certain to get VERY INTERESTING.

  2. jbecker says:

    The bill, H.B. 201 was just passed this evening with provisions to allow dual candidacies. So, Both Shelley Moore Capito and Jesse Johnson can run in both their current race as well as this special election should they desire.

    There do not appear to be any provisions in it for independent or minor party candidates to be able to run – exclusionary to only Republicans, Democrats, and the Mountain Party.

    This kind of mischief is why the Seventeenth Amendment needs to be repealed. An excellent article on the subject can AND SHOULD be read here: