Questions about filling West Virginia Senate seat


In the wake of the passing of long-time Senator Robert Byrd (R-WV), it was expected that Gov. Joe Manchin (D) would appoint a replacement, and that a double election would be held in November 2012 – the date upon which the seat is already due to be put up for voter referendum. Now that scenario is coming under question.

The initial ruling was that Manchin would select a replacement, and the November 2012 would determine the identity of a candidate to serve the last few weeks of Byrd’s term, as well as the identity of the candidate who will get a full six-year term beginning in 2013.

Some are questioning the interpretation of the law in arriving at this ruling. On one hand, West Virginia law states that candidates cannot file to run after primaries have been held, an event already in the state’s past this year. On the other, the law states that if more than two and a half years are left in the term, a special election must be held. reported that the WV Secretary of State is confident of the November 2012 election scenario. But reports that Republicans in the state, eager to take a stab at moving the seat to their side of the aisle, are questioning the ruling and may mount a challenge to the ruling in the courts if possible.

RBR-TVBR observation: Regardless of when an election is held for this seat, it is bound to attract boatloads of out-of-state cash. West Virginia is a state where both parties think they can be competitive, and an open seat is always an attractive target under almost any circumstances. If there are two elections between now and November 2012, that will mean two hotly contested battles.