Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) called Gov. Joe Manchin's (D) selection of an interim Senator Friday a political maneuver meant to further Manchin's own ambitions.
Capito, a leading candidate to face Manchin in a special election this fall to permanently fill the seat, compared Manchin to Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (I), who angered Republicans when he left the GOP to run as an Independent for the Senate.
"Based on the person chosen from the rumored field of candidates to fill the U.S. Senate vacancy on an interim basis, it is once again evident that political ambition was the key factor in the selection," Capito said in a statement.
"Governor Manchin followed the same path as Florida Governor Charlie Crist did last August when he appointed his former staffer for the sole purpose of protecting his own desire to run for the U.S. Senate seat."
Manchin announced he had picked his former general counsel, Carte Goodwin, to fill the late Sen. Robert Byrd's seat on an interim basis at a Friday afternoon news conference at the statehouse.
“I’ve waited to make this announcement because it’s important to do this right,” Manchin said. He called Goodwin “fiercely independent” and said “we have gone toe-to-toe many times.”
Goodwin said he expects to lean on the experience of the state’s senior Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D) in what he expects will be “lots of work in a very short period of time.”
"I will have no agenda other than working to fight hard every day for West Virginia families,” said Goodwin.
While Capito congratulated Goodwin on his appointment and expressed a desire to work with him in Washington, she didn't hold back her criticism of Manchin and the state's Democratic establishment.
Capito called the events since the death of Byrd (D) "a chaotic and confusing period," and said the legislative solution currently being worked on by state lawmakers is a "band aid solution for this crisis."
She called for a fix that would allow a special election as soon as possible, including either a primary or general election on November 2.
"It is also important that the process provides adequate time for candidates to be able to file and wage a campaign for this seat and not be constrained by a narrow timeline to accommodate the wishes of one potential candidate over another," Capito said.
Capito has said she is still weighing a potential run in a November special election, but does not plan to make any decisions until at least next week.
Under current state law, Capito would have to resign her seat in the House to run for Senate, which she has expressed a reluctance to do.
This story was posted at 5:37 p.m. and updated at 5:53 p.m.