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Former Manchin Counsel Carte Goodwin Will Be Byrd’s Senate Replacement

West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin (D) will name his administration’s former general counsel, Carte Goodwin, to replace the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D).

While there has been no official confirmation from Manchin’s office, sources have identified Goodwin as Manchin’s pick to The Associated Press. Goodwin was one of three candidates identified yesterday as the likeliest choices for the temporary position.

Goodwin served as Manchin’s counsel from 2005 to 2009 and then returned to private practice as a partner at Goodwin and Goodwin, his family’s practice. He is currently chairman of the state’s School Building Authority and last year chaired the state’s Independent Commission on Judicial Reform. Goodwin’s family is already well-known in state politics — his father was chairman of West Virginia University Board of Governors, while his uncle is currently the chief judge for the state’s federal Southern District court. He also has connections to his soon-to-be colleague, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.) — Goodwin’s wife, Rochelle, is currently Rockefeller’s state director.

Goodwin is more politically conservative than the average national Democrat — most members of the West Virginia party are — and even former state Senate Minority Leader Vic Sprouse (R) described him in a 2007 column in The West Virginia Record as a “business Democrat.” Still, Manchin is unlikely to have picked someone who would not vote in favor of the Democrats’ economic legislation, especially given reports of the pressure Democratic leaders put on Manchin as he considered who to appoint. Democrats even waited to put the unemployment benefits extension up for a vote until shortly after Goodwin is sworn in Tuesday, as they need him as their 60th vote in favor of the legislation.

While the 36-year-old Goodwin certainly has future political aspirations — he seriously considered running against Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R) this year and was courted by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee — he will simply serve as a placeholder for Manchin, who will almost certainly run for the seat in November’s special election.

Manchin will officially announce his selection this afternoon.

*Updated at 12:57 p.m.

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