WHEELING - West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin announced this morning he will run for the U.S. Senate seat previously held by the late Robert C. Byrd.
It wasn't exactly a surprise announcement, following days of speculation and political maneuvers in the wake of Byrd's June 28 death.
The move came just 13 hours after Manchin approved setting a date for a special election to fill the seat of former U.S. Sen. Byrd, D-W.Va. That action calls for a special primary election to determine party nominations for the office on Aug. 28. A special election between the nominees will be held concurrently with the regular general election on Nov. 2.
W.Va. Gov. Joe Manchin
Manchin's announcement today lasted less than 10 minutes. Manchin said he was "choked up" as he praised his current staff members, saying he was able to make his announcement because of the work they have done. He cited their cooperative spirit and willingness to serve the people of the state.
"This is what makes West Virginia work," he said.
Manchin also lauded the West Virginia Legislature, which late Monday passed legislation officially granting Manchin the authority to call for a special election.
"The Legislature came together amicably," Manchin told those present at his announcement in Charleston at the State Capitol. "For that, I'm grateful."
Manchin, who turns 63 next month, is a native of Farmington, W.Va. He was first elected to the West Virginia House of Delegates in 1982 and moved to the state Senate in 1984. He served there until 1996, when he chose to make his first run for governor and lost.
In 2000, Manchin was elected West Virginia secretary of state. He made a successful run for governor in 2004 and won re-election to a second term in 2008 with more than 70 percent of the vote.
Filing for the Aug. 28 special primary election began at 8:30 a.m. today and will continue from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. today through Friday.
A provision in the bill providing for the election allows those already on the Nov. 2 regular election ballot to file for the special election for the U.S. Senate seat.
Some Republicans are calling for U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., to run for the office, and it's expected other current officeholders may also join the race. Morgantown businessman John Raese, a Republican, has said he is seriously considering a run for the Senate.
Earlier this week, Manchin appointed a former top aide, Democrat Carte Goodwin of Charleston, to serve as senator until an election can be held.