Business group presses Manchin on special election

The West Virginia Chamber of Commerce on Monday asked Gov. Joe Manchin (D) to call a special election this November to fill the seat of the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.). From the Charleston Gazette:

In a news release, the Chamber said the state law for filling the vacancy is "muddled, and imprecise." Lawyers with Secretary of State Natalie Tennant's office have said the law allows Manchin to appoint someone to serve as interim senator until 2012. The state Attorney General's Office also is reviewing the law.

"The people of West Virginia deserve the opportunity to select the person who will represent them in the U.S. Senate," said Steve Roberts, Chamber president. "I truly believe Sen. Byrd would want to voters to decide who their next U.S. senator will be."

The Chamber urged the governor to place the issue on the agenda of a special legislative session later this month. Roberts said the Legislature should set a date for the special election and clarify the replacement process.

On Friday, the secretary of state backed the idea of a November special election for Byrd's seat but said it would require changing the state's election code. She also wants Manchin and the State Legislature to take up the issue during the special session scheduled for mid-July.