List of Possible Byrd Successors Narrows
While West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin (D) has made no public comments yet on who he will pick tomorrow as an interim replacement for the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D) — or even who is on his short-list — analysts and some of the candidates themselves have managed to narrow down the list for us.
Hoppy Kercheval, a well-known expert on state politics and the host of West Virginia MetroNews Network’s “Talkline,” indicated in commentary originally broadcast Friday that Manchin is likely looking at the following people: former Byrd staffer Anne Barth, former Gov. Gaston Caperton, former state Democratic Party chair Nick Casey, former Manchin counsel Carte Goodwin, current party chair Larry Puccio and former Gov. Bob Wise.
Puccio and Wise are definitely off the list at this point. Puccio told The Times West Virginian that he is not on Manchin’s list, intending instead to remain party chair. Wise told Politics Daily’s Jill Lawrence he wants to continue on as president of the Alliance for Excellent Education, a D.C.-based education policy and advocacy organization. Politics Daily reported Casey is also unlikely to be the replacement because he is currently waiting to be confirmed as a federal judge.
Barring a dark-horse appointee, the interim senator from West Virginia will be Barth, Caperton or Goodwin.
The Charleston Gazette reported Goodwin may be the current frontrunner because he would not be a threat to Manchin’s all-but-assured run for the seat in a special election. Caperton told Politics Daily he would seriously consider accepting the job if Manchin offered it to him, though The Associated Press reported this has not happened as of yet.
Manchin will have to make up his mind quickly, if he hasn’t already — he’s already promised to public announce his selection by 5 p.m. tomorrow. While Senate Democrats will manage to pass the financial regulatory reform bill today without Byrd’s replacement, they will need that person, whoever it is, as the required 60th vote on an unemployment benefits extension that will come to the floor next week.