Manchin Starts Senate Switch

WHEELING – U.S. Sen.-elect Joe Manchin wants a “seamless transition” as he leaves West Virginia’s governor’s office to take a Senate seat later this month.

He said Wednesday he won’t call for a special session of the Legislature to address gubernatorial succession laws before leaving for Washington.

The governor addressed reporters’ questions one day after winning election to the unexpired term previously held by the late Robert Byrd. The term expires at the end of 2012 and had been filled in the interim by Carte Goodwin.

Manchin said he doesn’t know when he will be sworn into office, but it will be shortly after the results of Tuesday’s election are certified in the coming week.

State Senate President Earl Ray Tomblin is next in line to become governor. Under existing law, he would serve until the next governor is elected through a special election in November 2012 – just two months before the term expires – unless the West Virginia Legislature changes the law.

“There are a lot of different opinions, but I do not intend to call a special election,” Manchin said. “We saw this year that there is not total agreement on both sides of the aisle as to the direction of succession laws, and I’ve said before I will not call a special session unless I’m sure we’re going to get agreement.”

Manchin, 63, also noted he likely would seek only two full terms in the Senate after serving out the current unexpired term.

“Two full, six-year terms is plenty for me,” he said. “That would be a pretty good run for me.”