Governor Manchin Names Old Family Friend as Senator to Replace Robert Byrd

Why 2014? That is when Sen. Rockefeller is up for reelection, and rumor has it that he may choose to retire instead. Rockefeller played a large role in pushing through the health care bill, and in a sit-down with constituents two months ago Rockefeller said that public option legislation could be considered next year. When push comes to shove Rockefeller has sided with the state and come out against tougher EPA clean water regulations that could hurt the state's mining community, but he is for cap and trade legislation.

There are other Republicans interested in running should a special election occur. Businessman John Raese, who was soundly defeated by Byrd in 2006, has expressed interest. Former W.Va. Secretary of State Betty Ireland, who chose not to run for reelection in 2008, is also on the short list of possible candidates. The NRSC is already pumping money into the state party, which took out newspaper ads attacking Manchin this week.

The one thing that could hurt Manchin is his appointment of Goodwin as a temporary senator. Goodwin comes from a politically connected family, with a uncle as a federal judge and a cousin as a U.S. attorney. An aunt is state cabinet secretary, and his own wife is an aide to Sen. Rockefeller. Goodwin's father, until his recent death, was chairman of the West Virginia University Board of Governors. The Goodwin and Manchin families have been close allies.

During the senior Goodwin's tenure as WVU BOG chair, Michael Garrison, head of the Higher Education Policy Commission under Manchin, was selected as WVU president. Under his presidency it was revealed that Gov. Manchin's daughter and Mylan Pharmaceuticals COO Heather Bresch had not earned a MBA degree she claimed to have had. Administration officials working for Garrison, a former classmate of Bresch's and a former Mylan lobbyist, changed her grades to make it look as though she completed the required courses. A independent study took Garrison to task for the scandal and he resigned in 2008.

Carte in a press conference said he would not run in the special election. He also made it clear he would not vote in favor of cap and trade and is expected to vote the way Manchin wants him to.

“I want to thank the governor for entrusting me with this awesome responsibility,” Goodwin said.  “In turn, it is now my responsibility to work every day to earn the trust of my fellow West Virginians. I have no agenda, other than fighting for my state and putting the interests of her people first.  Robert C. Byrd, the greatest public servant West Virginia has ever known, and a true giant of American history, has left quite a legacy.  I cannot begin to replace Senator Byrd, nor can I hope to ever fill his shoes.  But what I can do is emulate his work ethic and his commitment to West Virginia.”

All the while, the state legislature is still working out bugs in the succession legislation crafted by Manchin. The special session will continue Saturday and maybe Sunday.

One thing is for sure: the death of Robert C. Byrd has left the state in political chaos and it remains to be seen which party will come out on top.