Special Election Process In Chaos
Following days of legislative wrangling over the process to succeed the late Sen. Robert Byrd, state lawmakers in West Virginia still haven’t reached an agreement as Gov. Manchin’s special session has devolved into partisan finger-pointing.
Lawmakers appeared on the cusp of a deal Monday. Manchin originally had a news conference with state Senate President Earl Ray Tomblin (D) and House Speaker Richard Thompson (D) planned for mid-afternoon Monday. That was postponed and then rescheduled for Tuesday after the governor’s office said “discussions regarding the process are still taking place.”
Manchin was working to strike a deal with state lawmakers throughout the day Monday.The Charleston Gazette reported that the governor made a rare appearance in the statehouse to work Republican lawmakers.
If the legislature can’t reach agreement it would leave the governor’s office in the same position as more than a week ago when it called a special session. Manchin is worried that without final action from the state legislature, a special election will be open to legal challenges, despite the fact that the state attorney general’s office has said Manchin has the authority to call one.
Over the past few days, lawmakers have argued the governor’s bill gave too much power to West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant to control timelines for the special election.
Republicans are still pushing to declare the special an election legally separate from the general election in November. That change would essentially allow Rep. Shelly Moore Capito (R) to run for reelection to the House and in a special election for Senate.