West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin (D) officially launched his campaign for Senate Tuesday after weeks of uncertainty over the succession process for the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.).
Manchin said he will run in November’s special election to fill Byrd’s seat. Manchin appointee Carte Goodwin, who will be sworn in early Tuesday afternoon, will hold the seat until November’s election.
A primary will take place Aug. 28, with a special election Nov. 2.
Manchin called his time in the governor’s office the “six greatest years of my life,” and called his decision to jump into the Senate the toughest one he’s ever had to make.
Manchin’s announcement comes a day after West Virginia state lawmakers reached agreement on a bill to change the state’s election code to allow for the special election. Manchin spoke at the secretary of state’s office where he officially filed to get his name on November’s ballot.
The question now is whether Manchin will face a strong Republican challenge in November.
The legislation passed and signed into law by the governor Monday night declared November’s special election a legally separate contest from this fall’s general election. That means Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) is able to run for Byrd’s seat without giving up her seat in the House, which was seen as the greatest roadblock to a Capito candidacy. She is considered the strongest GOP candidate for the position.
No word yet on whether Capito will run for the seat, but she will have to make a decision before the end of the week. The filing period for the special election began Tuesday morning and will last through 5 p.m. Friday.
Last week, Capito released a scathing statement accusing Manchin of appointing place-holder Carte Goodwin to the Senate only to further his own political ambitions.
And on Monday, state Democratic Chairman Larry Puccio launched a broadside on Republican lawmakers, accusing them of politicizing the special election process for Capito’s benefit.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee reacted quickly to Manchin’s announcement, hitting the governor for breaking a pledge to serve out his full four-year term as governor. The National Republican Senatorial Committee labeled Manchin “a loyal rubber stamp for President Obama’s reckless spending agenda in Washington.”
Manchin has already made clear that he would break with the administration on one of its legislative priorities. He is an opponent of the president’s cap-and-trade proposal.
—Updated at 10:48